The city of Lahore came to a standstill as the heaviest downpour of this year’s monsoon season was recorded at 111mm yesterday, inundating parts of the city and making life miserable for residents across Lahore. The wretched state of the city points to a glaringly obvious fact; the urban resilience to floods has not improved in the slightest since last year, rather the situation has deteriorated owing to the massive construction projects underway that leave the city vulnerable to worse conditions in the event of heavy rainfall.

With no drainage system operational for a city where millions reside, rainwater in Cantonment Board Areas including Saddar Bazaar, Gol Chakar area, Dehli Road, Tufail Road, Sarwar Road and Zarar Saheed Road wrecked havoc in the seemingly better parts of Lahore. High intensity rainfall causes flooding every year in Lahore, yet the city sewage system and draining canals are not upgraded so they may have the necessary capacity to drain away the amounts of rainfall. According to the WASA MD, all 108 disposal and lift stations were functioning to their full capacity besides the 40 sucker lorries and 59 de-watering sets installed at sensitive points in the city, and yet life stood to a standstill.

The ongoing Rs 7 billion projects of changing of sewerage and water pipelines from Lawrence Colony to Samnabad, has exacerbated the problem for now but hopefully drainage will be improved once the project is completed. It would be wise for planning officials to create a network of stormwater drains as the project for overhauling the pipelines is already underway. Urban planning plays an integral role in improving the resilience of cities to natural hazards. The city that has been turned into a concrete jungle has little open soil left to aid natural drainage of storm water. The least the city administration can do is ensure that the residents do not suffer at the hands of flooding, disease and electrocution that follows when rain disrupts their daily lives.