The authorities breached the dyke of Manchar Lake at the RD-14 point on Sunday in a desperate attempt to protect lives and assets of the residents of five union councils of Jamshoro district.
The situation at Manchar Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Pakistan, is becoming critical with each passing day. The Sehwan Airport, an installation of an oil company as well as Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah’s home village, are located in the five Union Councils (UCs) – Bubak, Aarazi, Wahar, Jaffarabad and Channa.
Confirming the report, Deputy Commissioner Captain (retd) Fariduddin Mustafa said that the breach was made in the dyke near Baug-e-Yusuf.
Manchar Lake is located 18 km away from Sehwan Sharif in Jamshoro District and Dadu District, west of the Indus River.
The deputy commissioner on Saturday had issued evacuation orders for the people of the five UCs, saying that they should move out to safer places.
The water level at the lake had increased to 123 Reduced Level (RL) amid strong winds.
During his recent visit to Manchhar Lake, the Sindh chief minister had said that the water level in the lake would be dangerous if it reached 123 feet, which at that time was 120.75 feet.
The lake’s gushing water had flooded two rural towns – Jhangara and Bajara – and surrounding villages on Saturday.
The cut made to release water pressure in Manchhar Lake is expected to affect some 400 villages in seven UCs in the area.
“After the breach, the water will enter Indus River by passing through Kiranpur village and Indus Link,” according to the Sindh Irrigation Department.
The breach will reduce the pressure of water entering the lake by 30%, said the officials.
“The next 24 to 48 hours are crucial for the Manchar Lake,” the deputy commissioner said, adding that there is pressure on the lake’s dykes from RD-54 to RD-58.
On the other hand, pressure increased on ring embankments raised to protect Johi and Mehar cities from flooding. Residents were dumping stones and other flood-fighting materials to reinforce the dykes.
Matiari city and the National Highway are feared to be submerged as the gate of Chandan branch at Rohri Canal could not be repaired despite the passage of several hours.
The authorities, however, are transporting people from five union counsels in Sehwan to safe places.
Irrigation Minister Jam Khan Shoro confirmed that the breach was made to reduce the pressure on the lake and to secure Dadu, Mehar and Sehwan.
“Technically, it was necessary to make a cut to the lake,” he said, adding that a few UCs were affected after the cut.
Sources said that the officials of the irrigation department had urged the government to act immediately as the area between RD-50 to RD-55 was left vulnerable due to the pressure of the water. Resultantly, the cut was made from RD-14.
Mustafa Mallah, a resident of Manchhar Lake told The Express Tribune that except for a dozen villages, all the remaining human population was badly affected. “The situation is critical,” he said.
Residents of Johi, Mehar, Khairpur Nathan Shah and other areas had already demanded the provincial government to make a cut and save the residents of three taluks.
The villages and towns are particularly endangered by the rising water pressure on the lake’s embankments after deluging Jhangara and Bajara towns.
The road links of many small towns and villages with Sehwan had already come under water. The lake received around 40,000 cusecs water from Main Nara Valley (MNV) drain and the hill torrents. However, only around 25,000 cusecs were released in the Indus River and 15,000 cusecs had been retained in the lake.
PAK ARMY OPERATION: The National Flood Response Coordination Centre (NFRCC) in a statement said that as many as 307 army aviation helicopters sorties have been flown to various areas across the country for evacuation of stranded people thus far.
As many as 3,147 stranded individuals have been evacuated through these helicopter sorties including 479 evacuated during the last 24 hours through 31 sorties.
44 tons of rations/medicines have been transported on 31 helicopter sorties during last 24 hours, as per the official statement.
“3,021 tons of food items along with 383 tons of sustenance items and 1,479,802 medicines have been collected so far,” it added.
2,459 tons of food items 329 tons of sustenance items and 112,110 medicines distributed so far while 88,697 patients were treated in 250 medical camps established across Pakistan.
The communiqué said scouts have established kids facility at flood relief camps in Sibbi and ration distribution in progress at Goth Suleman and Besham (Uthal) areas.
The NFRCC said army engineers’ efforts are in progress to strengthen banks of Manchar Lake while Peshawar Corps engineer troops opened Bahrain Bridge after a lot of efforts. “This has helped to connect people in Swat valley.”
The statement said Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) along with National Highway Authority (NHA) assisted by Rawalpindi Corps troops has opened Karakoram Highway for light traffic.