ISLAMABAD - Federal Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal yesterday directed the departments concerned to take preemptive measures to deal with flooding situation keeping in view the expected twenty per cent higher rain in the upcoming monsoon season.

“The departments concerned should be prepared to minimise the losses of expected high floods in the country in the coming monsoon season,” Ahsan Iqbal said while chairing a high-level meeting on monsoon 2016 impact and level of preparedness here.

The meeting was attended by officials of federal ministries, provincial departments, Met Office and NDMA. The meeting reviewed the expected rains as forecast by the Met Office and its impacts in details.

He said that national preparedness is a composite for preparedness at provincial levels to deal with calamity like situation due to more than normal rain in monsoon season.

He said that proper steps should be taken to inspect the conditions of water reservoirs and head works before arrival of monsoon season and preparedness should be made for relief activities and provision of medical facilities in the backdrop of expected flooding in various parts of the country.

Ahsan Iqbal directed for eliminating all the shortcomings in the relief operations, which hampered the relief activities in past when massive floods-hit the large parts of the country.

He said the country is passing through abnormal conditions due to climate change distortions in recent years, which warrants sound national level preparedness to minimise the losses of floods.

He said early warning system is first defence line against high rains and subsequent flooding and emphasised the need to put in place a state-of-the-art early warning system to check losses from flood like natural calamities. He assured all possible resources for installation of the early warning system to save the country from devastation caused by floods.

Ahsan Iqbal urged to utilise the youth bulge for volunteerism in flood related relief activities and asked Civil defence to take necessary steps for inducting high number of youth in its volunteer network. He also stressed for combing operations to remove the snags in drainage system and storm water nullahs at district level.

An official privy to the meeting told The Nation that there is no immediate solution to the future monsoon flooding except immediate construction of at least two water reservoirs - Bhasha and Munda dams. He said the government is dealing a very serious matter in a very non-serious way.  “With protection measures other than the building of reservoirs the government can only mitigate the loss of life and property but cannot stop the floods,” he added. Pakistan is facing flood consecutively for the past six years but even today the government don’t have a flood protection plan. The met department forecasted heavy floods during coming Monsoon season, the official said.

He said instead of building consensus oriented big water reservoirs such as Bhasha and Munda dams the government is once again dragging the nation into controversial Kalabagh Dam issue. He said the same thing happened during Dictator General Musharraf’s regime when he failed to construct big water reservoirs he initiated the Kalabagh controversy to misguide the nation. Someone should ask the Water and Power authority of how many big water reservoirs they have constructed in more than 46 years. Not making big water reservoirs is tantamount to criminal negligence and the rulers can be held accountable for the loss of life and property due to floods of the citizens Pakistan, the official commented. He said that meetings and presentation are not the solution of problem as the government needs to take some tangible steps for flood protection. It is very simple, the official said, if the government wants to protect Punjab and Sindh from the destruction of River Indus it should built Bhasha Dam and for the protection of KP the construction is Munda is required.