Water level in Manchhar Lake recedes as officials see signs of ‘normalcy’

September 20, 2022

ISLAMABAD – The water level in the Manchhar Lake — one of the largest freshwater reserves in the country — further receded on Monday with officials expecting the situation to return to “complete normalcy”, provided that the water continued to flow to the River Indus without any disruption.

Manchhar Lake has been the main source of the threat, compelling authorities to breach its protective dykes and other structures along its paths in an attempt to divert the flow of water towards less populated areas and prevent flooding in densely populated regions.

Today’s developments

.Water level in Manchhar Lake subsides

.Two children die in Dadu in last 24 hours due to various diseases

.Three 132kV grid stations in Khairpur Nathan Shah, Faridabad, and Bhan Syedabad flooded with 8-feet high water

.Pakistan organises photo exhibition displaying flood destruction at UN headquarters in New York

.Rain forecast over next 24 hours in upper Punjab, KP and GB

.NFRCC clarifies no food shortages in flood-hit areas

.US announces additional $2m for Pakistan

Irrigation engineer Mahesh Kumar told Dawn.com that the water level in Manchhar had subsided to 120.7 feet but it needed to go down to 12 to 14 feet, which he said is it’s normal level.

It is pertinent to mention that the lake’s full capacity stands at 122.8 feet.

Kumar said the water was now flowing directly into the Indus River through the Larkana-Sehwan (LS) bund.

He added that the water intensity at ring bunds at Mehar, Johi and Bhan Syedabad were back to normal levels while the emergency declared previously there in view of raging water had now been lifted.

Separately, Dr Karim Mirani, who works for Dadu Civil Hospital, told Dawn.com that two children died in the last 24 hours due to various diseases, adding that the inflow of patients at the hospital was on the rise.

Floods from record monsoon rains and glacial melt in the mountainous north have affected 33 million people and killed 1,545 since June 14, washing away homes, roads, railways, livestock and crops, in damage estimated at $30 billion.

Both the government and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres have blamed climate change for the extreme weather that led to the flooding, which submerged nearly a third of the country.

Sindh has been particularly hit hard, with Manchhar Lake witnessing a surge in its water level in recent days as floodwaters from the north and hill torrents from Balochistan flow southwards, leaving behind a trail of deaths and destruction.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been made homeless by flooding in Sindh, with many sleeping by the side of elevated highways to protect themselves from the water.

Grid stations in Johi, KN Shah, Faridabad still under water
Three 132kV grid stations in Khairpur Nathan Shah, Faridabad, and Bhan Syedabad are still closed as up to eight feet of water is still standing in and around the power stations.

According to Sukkur Electric Power Company (Sepco) Chief Executive Officer Saeed Dawich, the transmission lines had collapsed near Johi city as a result of extreme flooding, which caused a prolonged power outage in many parts of Dadu district.

He said the remaining three grid stations would be made operational as soon as water level subsides, which would restore power supply to Khairpur Nathan Shah, Faridabad, Bhan Syedabad and around 900 villages in the vicinity.

Sikandar Ali Rahupoto, a Pakistan Peoples Party MNA from Sehwan, said a 100-foot-wide cut had been made in the Indus link canal near Bhan Syedabad to drain the water from the grid station and nearby areas.

Once the water receded, the power supply from the grid station would be restored, said Rahupoto, adding that the cut would also reduce pressure at the ring embankment around Bhan Syedabad.

SDO Irrigation Bhan Syedabad Vijay Kumar said that the cut would drain water from the grid station towards the Indus link canal.

Meanwhile, power supply to Johi, Wahi Pandhi and around 500 villages was restored on late Sunday after two of the five grid stations in Dadu district were energised as floodwater receded after more than a week.

The 132kV grid stations of Johi and Wahi Pandhi towns were restored, leading to the restoration of power in all connected villages.

Photo exhibition at UN headquarters
Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said on Monday that a photo exhibition, displaying the destruction wreaked in Pakistan by recent floods, had been organised at the United Nations headquarters in New York on the directives of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

“The exhibition will remain on display during the UN General Assembly (UNGA) this week,” she said.

PM Shehbaz Sharif will address the UNGA on Sept 23, with a focus on challenges faced by Pakistan in the wake of recent climate-induced catastrophic floods in the country.

Meanwhile, the prime minister said that the global conversation on Pakistan’s flood devastation should focus on the plight of children.

“Disaster has adversely affected millions of children with over 500 dead. Let these children not be an arithmetic but a clarion call for swift action to rebuild their lives and future,” he said.

Rain forecast in KP, GB over next 24 hours
Meanwhile, in its daily update, the National Flood Response and Coordination Centre (NFRCC) said that rain with thunderstorms is predicted in northeast Punjab, upper Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir over the next 24 hours.

In the rest of the country, mainly hot and dry weather was likely to prevail.

“In the last 24 hours, rain with wind and thunderstorms occurred in Punjab, upper KP and GB,” the update said, adding that the eeather remained hot and dry in other parts of the country.

‘No wheat shortage in flood-hit areas’
Separately, a special session of the NFRCC was convened where food secretary Zafar Hasan apprised the forum about the availability and provision of wheat at a national level.

He said that a sufficient stock of wheat and other food items was present for the next six month, adding that there was no danger of any shortage. However the present stock is more than the quantity of previous years,“ he said, according to a press release.

The forum was told that certain cartels were creating a fake impression of a wheat shortage to serve their vested interests.

The fact of the matter is wheat stock for 153 days is available and procurement plans are in place to ensure annual demand of 30.5 million tons of wheat, the statement said.

The forum asked all stakeholders to also ensure the availability of other critical food item, particularly infant food and dietary supplements for women.

US announces additional $2m for flood-hit areas
The United States has announced an additional $2 million dollars for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) flood response efforts in Pakistan, according to a Radio Pakistan report.

In a statement issued today, US Ambassador Donald Blome said that the humanitarian assistance will include lifesaving items for flood-affected Pakistanis and Afghan refugees in three provinces.

“The United States’ contribution demonstrates a continued commitment to the solidarity and responsibility sharing with Pakistan which is among the world’s largest hosts of refugees,” he said.

Meanwhile, the UNHCR Representative to Pakistan, Noriko Yoshida welcomed the generous contribution.

In response to flooding, UNHCR is on the ground distributing life-saving support in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan for Afghan refugees while also rushing relief including emergency shelter, hygiene items, mosquito nets, solar lanterns and blankets to flood-hit areas in southern Sindh province, the agency said in a statement.

225 million displacements in Asia-Pacific due to climate disasters: ADB
Meanwhile, in a report released today, the Asian Development Bank and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) said that people in Asia and the Pacific were displaced more than 225 million times due to disasters triggered by natural hazards from 2010 to 2021.

“The figure of 225 million displacements does not include the estimated hundreds of thousands of people displaced in Pakistan due to severe flooding since June this year.”

The report, titled ‘Disaster Displacement in Asia and the Pacific: A Business Case for Investment in Prevention and Solutions’, said climate change, combined with the rapid urbanisation of the region and other factors significantly heightened future displacement risk and related costs.

It stated the cost of disasters in the region was estimated to be several hundred billion dollars each year, highlighting that this didn’t include the economic impact of displacement itself.

The report found that investment in the prevention of disaster displacement was the only sustainable course of action for the socioeconomic development of the region.

“There has been significant progress across the region to develop disaster displacement policies and translate words into action. Much still remains to be done to effectively mitigate the impact of disaster displacement on individuals, societies and economies.”

East Asia and Southeast Asia had the highest number of disaster displacements — nearly two-thirds of the total — closely followed by South Asia. “Weather-related hazards, such as monsoon rains and tropical storms were responsible for 95 per cent of all the disaster displacements across the region during 2010-2021,” it pointed out.

The report discussed the role of climate change in disaster displacement, noting that the effects of climate change were becoming visible, and were projected to increase displacement as the frequency and intensity of hazards change and impacts on food insecurity and water scarcity. It also looked at the social and economic impacts and what steps were being taken to better prevent and prepare for disaster displacement.

Furthermore, the report analysed the impacts of floods, storms, earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic activity on each sub-region in Asia and the Pacific, and how disaster displacement disproportionately affects vulnerable groups such as women, children, and the elderly.

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