FLOOD RELIEF – KOT ADDU AND TAUNSA BARRAGE
As an attempt to assess the situation after the devastating Pakistani floods, I along with two of my fellows visited Kot Addu on August 22nd. Kot Addu is a tehsil of Muzaffargarh district in Southern Punjab that has been heavily affected by the recent floods. The city, which lies quite close to Taunsa Barrage on River Indus, was evacuated in the wake of flood threat. and the low lying western section of city came under water. A railway line splits the affected and unaffected areas of the city. A few direct routes to the city remained under water for some time and alternative routes had to be taken. The one we took was opened only recently and a part of it was still under water. The road was damaged at various points where running water had submerged it for almost two feet.
Flood and Politics
Our conversation with residents of Kot Addu,- brought out that they were highly displeased at the way flood conditions were handled. According to them, the breach of embankment named Abbasid Bund at left bank (East) of River Indus was unprecedented. Historically, it was always the right bank (West) of River Indus at Taunsa Barrage that was inundated at the time of severe floods. The right bank areas on the side of Dera Ghazi Khan (DG Khan) district are less populated and hence flooding on that bank causes much less damage. During the floods this year, the West bank areas were instead flooded. These areas, including Kot Addu, are naturally low lying areas with a very large population. As a result, the damage was magnified to enormous proportions. Our hosts claimed that it was the powerful Khosa family of DG Khan which used its influence to protect their farm lands on the right bank side of River Indus. Hunjra, another political family of that area that owns farm lands and game ranches on the right bank side, was also pointed out for using political influence to protect their property and as a result inundating areas with large population. The residents pointed out that the affected areas come under the constituency of a PPP MNA and according to them, the provincial government of Punjab deliberately damaged the areas. Our hosts also pointed out strange management of Taunsa barrage at the time of flood where the barrage gates were shut down (instead of being opened) when large volume of flood water was to pass through the barrage.