Islamabad - The Supreme Court was moved yesterday to take action against the officials of Rawalpindi and Islamabad for not taking preventive measures to save citizens living along the banks of Nullah Lai from floods.

Abdullah Tahir, a lawyer, filed the petition under the article 184(3) of constitution and prayed to constitute a judicial commission comprising retired judges of Supreme Court or high courts and engineers, nominated by Pakistan Engineering Council, to inquire and submit a detailed report of preventive measures taken by the authorities.

The petition sought arrest of the officials responsible for the neglecting the issue of overflowing in Nullah Lai, as almost every year Rawalpindi areas face flash floods. The petition also sought the court’s directives to the respondents for commencing Nullah Lai project to save lives and properties of inhabitants of Rawalpindi/Islamabad from floods without further delay.

The secretary to the chief minister Punjab, chairman Capital Development Authority, chairman Rawalpindi Development Authority, district coordination officer Rawalpindi, and chief engineer flood, Federal Flood Commission, are made respondents in the petition.

The petition mentioned that during the last 70 years (1944 to 2015) more than 20 floods have caused damages, but still there is no planning to save the people of Rawalpindi. He stated that on July 23, 2001 a total of 620mm rainfall was recorded within 10 hours at Islamabad metrological station. The water level of Nullah Lai rose and all houses and road bridges along the stream were swept away. A total of 74 people died, 40,000 people were affected, 742 cattle perished, and 1,087 houses were completely damaged while 2,448 homes were damaged partially. Estimates indicated a loss of Rs 15 billion to infrastructure, government property and to small medium scale business enterprises.

Everyone is aware that every year during the monsoon season the water level in Nullah Lai increases and poses threat to the people in Rawalpindi living on the banks of the stream, but the relevant authorities have done nothing to address the problems of residents of those areas.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) had given grants, technical assistance and equipment for the safety of people living along the banks of Nullah Lai but the attitude of respondents is hopeless, the petition said. The project of Nullah Lai should be on the priority of the provincial government but it gave importance to metro project bus and ignored the huge loss to the inhabitants of twin cities every year.

The petitioner said the metro bus project worsened the Nullah Lai’s overflowing problem. When the digging was done during the project, the mud, which was taken out, was thrown into the natural streams of Islamabad.

These streams which join the Nullah Lai have become narrower therefore the water flow in the streams have increased and now the water reaches Nullah Lai more quickly and with more pressure and force.