The catastrophic damage that the long and unbroken spell of rain falling across the country during the current monsoons has inflicted is a standing monument to the incompetence, callousness and shame of the leadership that has been in power for several decades. While the rulers have lived in safe and secure mansions away from the sight of the havoc, the masses have been in the thick of it, at the receiving end of a ruinous hand the fate has dealt them. And that has been going on year after year. The advance warnings of the approaching Armageddon have failed to motivate them to take steps that could banish the heinous prospect once for all.
Mud-built houses located in low-lying areas, even in riverbeds, unable to stand the onslaught of gushing waters; villages washed away by ferocious floods, taking along with them standing crops, men and animals; upturned charpoys carrying the sick and the bed-ridden being pulled through in chest-deep waters by men desperately trying to wade through to safety; pools of stagnant water raising fears of the killer dengue and other infectious diseases; and the unkind nature unceasingly raining destruction; – these and a host of other scenes one can associate with the macabre drama had a cast only of the poor and the downtrodden.
A look at the figures released by the National Disaster Management Authority portrays the plight: 180 dead, 104 injured, 343,000 people affected, 2427 houses completely washed away and 2774 others partially destroyed and 770 villages inundated.
Under these trying circumstances, the common man is left to look up to the skies for help because they expect nothing from the inhumanity and apathy of those who have vowed to not only look after their interests, but also improve the quality of their lives.
While the public bemoans the indifference of our own government, there are reports that India has released 115,900 cusecs of water into River Sutlej at Harike headworks that inevitably adds to the misery of the people. It is a great pity that while we lament India’s release of flood waters, it is predictable and in fact known in advance that flooding will occur every year. Yet, constructions on the edge of the river continue to be allowed, and canal systems remain the same since the Colonial era. If such disasters are to be prevented every year, we must be honest in accepting our failures and then in remedying them. Rivers swelled by rain water are added to by Indian overflows, all of which is well known by our authorities and well documented. The remedy for this yearly catastrophe is not in India, but in Pakistan. We must act to update our systems.