It is that time of the year once more, when the government starts to publicise ‘high level’ meetings to give the people of Pakistan false hopes that the devastation from the floods will not reach large proportions and that all is under control. Federal Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal yesterday directed the departments concerned to take all preventative measures to deal with the expected flooding situation. While that is easier said than done, keeping in view that the expected monsoon rainfall is twenty per cent higher in the upcoming monsoon season, the government cannot afford inaction and inefficiency to prevent large-scale destruction.

The Planning Minister dictated that proper steps should be taken to inspect the conditions of water reservoirs and relief activities should be streamlined and prepared for in advance. The fact of the matter is that Pakistan has been facing floods consecutively for the past six years but till today the government does not have a coordinated and sound flood protection plan. While the focus remains on mitigation of the effects of the disaster and provision of relief, the real effort should be towards building a national consensus for the construction of big water reservoirs instead of being embroiled in the controversial Kalabagh Dam issue. Doing so would not only address the flooding issue but could also be the solution to the water and energy crises.

The federal minister also claimed that a modern early warning system should be installed over the country. Such a system takes not only time and funding but also involves training and national coordination. How the federal minister will manage to accomplish this task before monsoon arrives is a mystery. A collaboration of scientists from Britain and India will release underwater robots into the Bay of Bengal this year – a multi-million-pound study - in a bid to accurately predict the Indian monsoon. Such projects are provided abundant but require collaboration with academics, a concept still alien to Pakistan. It is about time that the government take real substantial initiatives to adapt to the changing climate and prevent a humanitarian crisis in the making.