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.
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 more than 1,540 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.
‘No wheat shortage in flood-hit areas’
Separately, a special session of the National Flood Response and Coordination Centre (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.