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No respite for Karachiites as record August rains cause urban flooding

The people of Karachi found no respite from the latest spell of this season’s monsoon showers as the city continued to drown in rainwater on Tuesday.

As forecast by the Met Office, heavy rain started in the wee hours and continued non-stop until mid-day, with intermittent showers until the evening, flooding the city and causing power breakdowns.

The current spell has turned out to be the heaviest of this season, drowning almost all the major arteries of the city, including Sharea Faisal, Rashid Minhas Road, Shahrah-e-Pakistan, Sher Shah Suri Road, Tariq Road and their various neighbourhoods.

Numerous cars and motorbikes were swept away by the heavily gushing rainwater in different areas, while rainwater mixed with sewage entered houses, shops and offices.

Heavy water flow was reported in Sharea Faisal’s Nursery area, where cars were completely submerged. Massive water flow was also reported in the Hassan Square, Nipa and Airport localities and their adjoining areas.

Surjani Town

The situation in North Karachi and Surjani Town has been worsening since Friday’s rain, as their residents have been left with no option but to migrate. North Karachi’s sectors 11-A, 11-L and 5-E, and the 4K Chowrangi area all the way up till Surjani Town and Yousuf Goth have completely drowned.

The Edhi Foundation’s boats and a convoy of the Pakistan Army reached the area to rescue the people. Entry into and exit from Yousuf Goth was not possible without boats, and numerous residents who remained stuck were running out of groceries and petrol.

District West Deputy Commissioner Saleem Odho said that after Friday’s rain Surjani Town completely drowned, and according to their contingency plan, they were supposed to shift the residents to a nearby school in case of an emergency, but he claimed that the locals refused to relocate.

Explaining the reason for the town’s flooding, the DC said that there is no rain drainage in the area, but just a 36-inch-diameter sewerage line that only carries water according to its capacity.

He said that on the direction of the local government minister, they installed two huge drenching machines that sucked the water in Yousuf Goth and drained it at another 72-inch-diameter sewerage line near Allah Wali Chowrangi.

He also said the water would have been drained from the town within 24 hours if it had not rained on Tuesday. By Wednesday, he said, if it does not rain any more, the situation in Surjani Town will be under control.

Other areas

Nagan Chowrangi drowns every time it rains. A local named Arsalan Ali said that even during light rain knee-deep rainwater gathers there, while during a downpour the residents and shopkeepers have to run for their lives.

Sher Shah Suri Road, which has been newly constructed by the federal government-mandated Sindh Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited, also drowns every time it rains.

Knee-deep rainwater accumulated at Sakhi Hassan Chowrangi, Five-Star Chowrangi and KDA Chowrangi, while commuters had no option but to use the Green Line Bus Rapid Transit’s track.

In Nazimabad, near the Sir Syed Girls College, the road was closed for traffic movement during the day after water flow increased. Several commuters were seen walking from Golimar towards North Karachi.

PECHS also flooded again, to the extent that scores of cars and motorbikes were swept away by the gushing rainwater. In the neighbourhood’s Block-6 and in the KAECHS the storm water drain overflowed for the fifth or sixth time this monsoon season.

“This time the situation has been worse,” said a resident, adding that every time it rains, the drain overflows, but this time the water pressure is so extreme that it is sweeping away anything that comes in its way.

The situation in DHA and Clifton was also no different, where sewage and rainwater accumulated on several roads. Khadda Market and Punjab Chowrangi completely drowned. The link road between the Super Highway and the National Highway was also closed for traffic movement.

All the land routes leading to District Korangi were cut off on Monday for the fourth time this monsoon season. The Korangi Causeway and the EBM Causeway, which have been built on the Malir River bed, were submerged due to the water body’s flooding.

Landslide

A landslide was reported at around 11am in Gulistan-e-Jauhar Block 3-A. After being soaked by rain, large pieces of rocks trembled and then fell, bringing down with them the cemented wall of a house constructed on the edge of the cliff known as Murli Hills.

Almost 25 cars and motorbikes parked at the Javed Hill View apartment building were completely damaged because of the landslide. Fortunately, no harm to human life was reported.

Thirteen people had died in October 2015 when large rocks fell from the same hill over some shanties. Geological experts believe that the hills of Gulistan-e-Jauhar should not be in the construction zone.

Dams

While there were reports of the Thado and Lath dams being filled to their capacity and the spillways being opened, the Karachi Water & Sewerage Board said the Hub Dam has not yet completely filled.

The current level of the Hub Dam is 31.3 feet and there is a capacity of eight more feet of water that can be stored in the dam, following which the spillways would have to be opened.

‘Calamity’

The Karachi Electronic Dealers Association asked the Sindh government to declare “calamity” in Karachi and give relaxation in utility bills and tax for six months.

All Karachi Traders Alliance Chairman Atiq Mir said that over 80 per cent of the city’s shops were affected by Tuesday’s rain. He said that rainwater entered several shops, factories and warehouses to cause traders losses of millions of rupees.

In shops where drainage was underway after Friday’s rainfall, he said that on Tuesday more rainwater entered in those shops. He also requested the Sindh government to declare calamity in Karachi.

Power breakdowns

Over 80 per cent of the city was without power since the wee hours, when it started raining. The areas where the power supply was disrupted included Surjani Town, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Golimar, DHA, Clifton, PECHS, Saadi Town, Gulshan-e-Maymar, New Karachi, North Karachi, Nazimabad, North Nazimabad, Gulberg, Kharadar and Lyari.

Residents of these areas complained that due to prolonged power breakdowns, even their UPS and generators could not be used for long because the batteries of their UPS were discharged and their generators ran out of petrol. Power could not be restored until late at night in several areas.

KE statement

K-Electric said in its statement that low-lying areas, including Surjani, Gharo, Gadap and Korangi, remained worst-affected due to poor drainage, which resulted in urban flooding, creating serious challenges for KE teams.

The power company said that in the light of increased incidents of rising water levels, the presence of illegal connections, encroachment by internet and TV cables, and the news of water entering houses, KE was forced to suspend power to over 400 feeders to ensure public safety.

It said that some KE installations and infrastructure were also affected due to flooding, and power restoration efforts could not be completed without appropriate actions to ensure drainage.

‘Sindh abandoned’

Sindh Local Government Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah said the province has been facing the worst form of monsoon season in the country’s history, adds our correspondent.

A statement quoted him as saying that a national-level crisis has emerged in the country due to heavy monsoon rains in Sindh. “But the federal government has completely abandoned the province during these testing times.”

Shah said KE has once more caused serious hardships to the city’s people during the present rain emergency. “Those who solicited votes in the name of Karachi have abandoned the city,” he said without naming the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf that bagged majority of the city’s seats in the 2018 general elections.

The minister said that only the elected representatives of the Pakistan Peoples Party were among their electorates in the province during this time of national crisis. “The Sindh government assures the people of Karachi that very soon it will be able to overcome the present national-level crisis in the city.”




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