ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa said on Saturday that Pakistan will need a long-term plan which includes “delayed action dams and water drainage system” to mitigate the impacts of disasters caused by climate change.

The army chief made these remarks during his visit to flood-affected areas of Dadu, a district in Sindh most parts of which are currently under eight feet of water.

Read: Dadu faces threat of isolation

“We will need to build more mega dams in Pakistan. I cannot say anything about the location of these dams. In Swat, we will need to build dams as well…to control [the flow of] water”, as they produce clean energy and reduce pollution.

Gen Bajwa said following the super floods in 2010, the country had prepared a strategy to deal with riverine floods, but the administration was not ready for the abnormal rainfall which had wreaked havoc along both banks of the Indus River.

Suggests delayed-action dams, drainage systems, prefab housing to settle displaced persons in short-term

He said that in order to mitigate the challenges on the west bank of the river that overflowed and inundated Dadu, the country will need to come up with a long-term strategy because, in the absence of these measures, the residents along the west bank will continue to suffer. In order to secure the west bank of the Indus, an initial study has been conducted by the army and a report will be presented in a meeting of the prime minister and chief ministers next week, he said, adding that international experts will also help in this process.

Speaking about rescue operations across the country, the army chief said in most flood-hit areas, the rescue operations have been wrapped up barring occasional emergency cases, whereas, in Dadu, the rescue work was still underway. “This is the worst flood-hit region. Manchar and Hamal lakes, which are 100km away from each other, have joined. In other areas, rescue operations are over…[but] we are still busy in rescue and relief tasks,” Gen Bajwa said while talking about the situation in Dadu.

About Dadu where almost eight-foot high water is accumulated, the COAS said the water in the area will recede once the situation in the Indus River is improved. The water from Mancharr Lake will make its way to Indus. However, in Khairpur and Sukkur, the authorities will require water pumps for de-watering since they were low-lying areas. “We will have to commit to long-term planning and build dams and improve drainage systems,” the army chief added.

In his remarks about health conditions and a possible outbreak of diseases in Dadu, the army chief said the military doctors have been deployed in the area in the light of a potential outbreak of waterborne diseases.

The army chief also floated the idea of building prefab houses to rehabilitate the people. A house costs Rs0.5 million and an entire village comprising 50-100 two-bedroom units could be set up in days, he said, adding that the village could be set up on higher ground in Sindh or Balochistan.

Gen Bajwa said Pakistan was one of the worst victims of climate change even though it attributed merely 1pc to global emissions. “Our glaciers are melting, we are paying the price for other countries’ actions,” he said while calling for a globally coordinated approach to dull the blow of climate change disasters.

Speaking to reporters, the army chief said the global community had come forward to help Pakistan in this difficult but the nation will have to play its part in the rehabilitation of the flood-hit areas as not everything could be left to the international community. He urged people from urban and rural Sindh to donate to the relief fund, saying people from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were contributing to the relief efforts.

Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2022

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