A Talk at PILER Conference on Floods

I have not been involved. But been asked to advise. Visited rural areas of Thattah, left bank, Dadu, Khairpur Nathan Shah and Swat Valley.

Some basic principles need to be followed:

  • People should be empowered in the process of relief and rehabilitation. Doles and charity does not do it. Model villages do not help either. A drop in the ocean. Earthquake
  • Physical condition should improve from what was before
  • A long term local level research and extension organisation should be created to promote and organise people centred development

I will talk only on what I have seen and proposed.

1. In Sindh, the damage caused has been enormous because:

  • Flood plains have been encroached upon in violation of rules and regulations
  • The MRD movement of 1980-85 weakened governance institutions in Sindh due to which the desilting of canals, drainage channels, irrigation headwork are no longer properly desilted
  • Also for the same reasons, trees and vegetation along the canals and water courses have been cut and sold. Many complaints
  • Post-1970’s road and irrigation infrastructure is poor in quality and design
  • Main roads which are above the level of the land do not have adequate openings in them for the passage of water so entire settlements and fields drown

2. In Swat also the flood plains have been encroached upon, also by the road network and the regulation that no construction on the river side of the road has been violated all along the length of the river.

3. From these discussions, four recommendations emerge:

  • A redefining of the flood plains is required
  • Land settlement in the flood plains is required so as to remove encroachments, illegal occupation and since this is state land, its distribution on renewable lease in a manner to create a more just, equitable and productive society
  • The need to develop new maintenance and design standards for roads and irrigation systems and their implementation. Pak Engineering Council
  • Improving the functioning of governance institutions to make the above possible.

4. About 40 towns in Sindh have been affected. I took a detail loo at Khairpur Nathan Shah. My recommendations are based on my observations and conversation with people and persons’ knowledge of the Sindh towns.

  • Biggest problem of towns (which we can try and solve through rehabilitation)
    • Sanitation
    • Power for water and sewage
    • Employment
    • Poor civic architecture
    • Barrenless
  • People want to build their own homes with government money (reasons)
  • Houses have collapsed but building components have survived
  • People want water, toilet, roof, school, health facility and dispute-free return
  • Recommendations:
    • Underground sewage
    • Solar energy
    • Forest Department
    • Cinvaram machines
    • Technical advice
    • Good civic architecture to the paras
    • Use of brick
    • Cash for work (Rs. 500 billion over one million work days)

5. Mingora – rehabilitation of sanitation system, traffic management, flood plane identification and settlement and forestation

6. Rural areas (OPP’s work)

  • Water issue (tube wells, hand pumps, wells) desilting, demarcation
  • Toilets, roof, livestock and a school
  • Roads, culverts (cash for work)

How do you do all this?

  • The political process
  • Formulate policy
  • 42 talukas: 42 officers in-charge. Decentralise

Long term

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