The water level in the Manchhar Lake — one of the largest freshwater reserves in Pakistan — receded to some extent on Wednesday while efforts continued to protect ring embankments raised to protect Mehar town from further deluge.

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.

Assistant Commissioner Mehar, Mohsin Sheikh, told Dawn.com that around 10 to 12 feet of water was still stagnant in the surroundings of the Mehar Town in Dadu district.

“The water level will decrease gradually and we are trying to strengthen dykes to protect them from breach or any damage, he added.

He said the government was more focused on providing relief goods to affected people in the flood-hit areas.

Separately, an official in charge of the irrigation cell for the lake, Sher Mohammad Mallah, told Dawn.com that the water level in Manchar had reduced to 122.2 feet from 122.5 feet — against the full capacity level of 122.8 feet RL — as the water was now flowing directly into the River Indus through the Larkana-Sehwan (LS) bund.

Mallah said the water level at Dadu-Moro bridge had also witnessed a slight decrease.

Irrigation engineer Mahesh Kumar told Dawn.com that the water level had witnessed a reduction of one foot in the Indus Canal at Bhan Syedabad and surrounding areas. However, he added that 10-feet-deep water was still stagnant at Mehar’s ring bund.

MNA Sardar Sikandar Ali Rahoupoto said the situation at the ring bund in Dadu was deteriorating due to gusty winds and tides generated in its wake on Tuesday night. But by Wednesday morning, it had returned to normal.

A view of a flooded village in Sehwan. — Photo provided by author
A view of a flooded village in Sehwan. — Photo provided by author

Meanwhile, Karachi Administrator Murtaza Wahab tweeted a flood update, saying the discharge at Kotri downstream had come down to 487,312 cusecs.

“This discharge was 600,018 cusecs on Sep 11, while water at Manchar Lake had also come down to 122.10 RL which was at 123.30 RL on Sep 5.”

Situation in Bhan Syedabad, Sehwan

Rahoupoto said that at least 150 villages have been submerged with floodwater in Bhan Syedabad and its surrounding areas.

He said efforts were afoot to protect the city in Sehwan tehsil as floodwater in the area was yet to recede. “Machinery is employed in Saeedabad and the work is going on continuously to protect Bhan Syedabad from further inundation.”

Rahoupoto, who had been elected from the area’s NA-233 constituency, said at least seven union councils were flooded in Sehwan tehsil while rescue work was underway.

Assistant Commissioner Sehwan Iqbal Hussain said the locals had been shifted to safer places due to the stagnation of floodwater in villages.

Situation in Dadu

Meanwhile, at least 315 villages in union councils Muradabad, Khudabad and Yaar Muhammad Kalhoro of Dadu have been inundated with floodwater.

Deputy Commissioner Dadu Syed Murtaza Ali Shah said several areas of the city district were still flooded, adding measures were underway to prevent water from entering the main city.

This image shows the current situation of a breach which occurred naturally in Main Nara Valley Drain last week. — photo provided by Qurban Ali Khushik.
This image shows the current situation of a breach which occurred naturally in Main Nara Valley Drain last week. — photo provided by Qurban Ali Khushik.

MPA Pir Mujeeb ul Haq, elected from Dadu’s PS-74 constituency, told Dawn.com said authorities were working at Main Nara Valley Drain — also called Right Bank Outfall Drain-I — to strengthen protective embankments at the drain.

Locals said the water had receded up to one foot at different places from Dadu, Mehar, Khairpur Nathan Shah and Johi, but the threat remains.

Floods from record monsoon rains and glacial melt in the mountainous north have affected 33 million people and killed almost 1,400, washing away homes, roads, railways, livestock and crops, in damages 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.

PM Shehbaz visits Balochistan, announces exemption in power bills for flood-hit consumers

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif visited the Sohbatpur district of Balochistan and announced an exemption on electricity bills for August and September for residents of flood-hit areas.

“You won’t have to pay the bills for these months as we have completely slashed them,” the premier said in a media talk.

During his visit, he overviewed the relief efforts underway in the district and talked to residents. The prime minister noted that the impact of floods could not be dealt with overnight as the damages had occurred on a wider scale.

He said the government had already announced an aid of Rs70 billion with Rs25,000 being distributed per house affected by floods. “We have so far distributed Rs24bn.”

Shehbaz said the scale of devastation had “opened the eyes of the nation as everyone is dealing with it”.

He also instructed authorities to ensure the availability of drinking water and life-saving medicines on priority in the Sohbatpur area. The premier further directed to pace up the drainage of stagnant water and complete the activity in 10 days instead of the expected fortnight.

NDMA warns of ‘increased flows’ in eastern rivers

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has advised authorities to stay alert and ensure the timely evacuation of at-risk populations in light of the Flood Forecasting Division (FFD) warning of an increase in flows in Rivers Sutlej, Ravi and Chenab and their associated tributaries and nullahs in Sindh and Punjab on September 17 and 18.

In a flood advisory issued on Tuesday, the NDMA said the FFD had identified a well-marked low-pressure area over the central parts of Madhya Pradesh in India and forecast that this weather system might affect the upper catchments of eastern rivers — Sutlej, Ravi and Chenab — from September 17-18.

During this period, the advisory said, the flow of water was expected to increase in the three rivers and their tributaries and nullahs.

It advised relevant departments, including provincial disaster management authorities and irrigation departments and district, municipal and city administrations, to forewarn at-risk communities about the possible increase in the flows of water and maintain an enhanced alert level while monitoring the developing situation to reduce reaction and response times.

The authorities were also asked to pre-place rescue teams and equipment for rapid deployment in vulnerable areas, sensitise people living along the banks of the three rivers about the expected increase in water flows and timely evacuate the at-risk population from low-lying and flood-prone areas in line with evacuation plans and the availability of space, food and medicines at shelter camps.

Moreover, the advisory stated that in case of any eventuality, a special situation report or updates should be immediately shared with the NDMA.

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