As the first spell of the monsoon rains is set to lash the country, it is ill-prepared to deal with the accompanying risk of flooding and blows on infrastructure with long rain spells.
The thundershowers are likely to slide through the upper and central parts of the country from Saturday (today), temporarily pressing the pause button on the scorching summer heat.
According to forecasts announced by the meteorological department, the rainfall will gain intensity during the next week and may alleviate water shortages in several parts and improve water reserves, and significantly reduce the intensity of heat.
Among the places expected to experience full-blown showers are Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Attock and Chakwal.
However, in the absence of precautionary measures and a firm infrastructure, it is feared that the blessing will soon turn into a curse, repeating the damages Pakistan suffers every year in the monsoon season, including massive loss of life and property due to floods, storms and electricity-related incidents.
Pakistan’s shoddy record to upgrade its tattered infrastructure in flood disasters will again take a heavy toll and weighing down on major big cities, including Karachi and Lahore.
During every monsoon season, which runs from June to September, Pakistan experiences fatal incidents of building and wall collapses as rainfall weakens the foundations of poorly-built structures.
The aviation system is also not up to the task to carry out rescue-and-relief operations during any natural calamities.
Karachi will suffer another spell of urban flooding due to the failure of the administrative machinery to restore drain infrastructure and canals to manage floods.
The drains remain chocked by encroachments, yet to be removed to prevent urban flooding.
Besides, in the absence of an appropriate telemetry system, administrations are incapable to flash early warnings about floods in the hilly areas of the country, in case of an overwhelming deluge causing landslides.
According to the National Monsoon Contingency Plan 2021 released by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the country’s forecast system can only run out to seven to 15 days for accurate weather predicting.
This only accounts for only 65% to 70% accuracy rate, dealing a blow to precautionary measures to hold firm in natural disasters.
The report also stated that telemetry and early warning systems were not available in several regions of the country such as south Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan for issuance of flood warnings.
The report added that Pakistan did not always have an aviation system on the go for adequate disaster management.
“For disaster relief operations, the Pakistan Army or the interior ministry has to first seek an approval which delays the relief efforts and full-fledged evacuation plans,” the report read.
The relief activities hit snags especially in the northern areas where helicopters cannot be deployed due to the obfuscating mountains. The report further said that heavy machinery required for carrying out rescue operations and removing landslides during natural calamities was not available in the hilly areas of Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
According to the report, the District Disaster Management Authority, which was set up to control flood damage in districts across the country, is understaffed, underfunded and ill-equipped.