Tuesday, May 21

Urban flooding | Chaudhry Muhammad Latif

By Chaudhry Muhammad Latif

Recent climate resultant flooding in Pakistan has given a wakeup call to harness natural blessing of rain water to tackle simultaneously probable drought in 2025 and urban flooding to avoid human catastrophe in the future. It has been felt advisable to adopt ground water recharge wells technology as a national policy to counter urban flooding and to build reservoirs big or small as many as possible so as to be ready to save every drop of rain water.

The rain water storage solutions like artificial lakes on micro level commencing from housing societies and artificial recharge wells would help manage rain water. We will have to either reduce ground water extraction mostly by tube wells or increase water table recharge in urban areas in particular. Luckily the Capital Development Authority Islamabad has taken a healthy and useful initiative of establishing 100 recharge wells and 20 monitoring stations from its own resources in Islamabad, the capital city.  This realization has taken place after decade of neglecting this vital requirement of its residents. Out of 100 proposed recharge wells 50 have been accomplished with conservation of 10 million gallons of water which at first replenished the ground water and has also reduced NullahLeh flooding this year. This quantity of water if released to NullahLeh the result could be urban flooding as experience by the twin cities several times. This experience indicates that if this type of reservoirs are built up in all cities the menace of urban flooding could be minimized. The havoc of urban flooding in Karachi demands immediate steps in this direction.

Now the need of the hour is to bind down the housing societies to build water reservoir in their respective catchment areas on top priority basis. The issue of urban flooding dictates to build artificial lakes even in parks and similar vacant spaces available. A sincere effort could be solicited to the management of big mosques to build reservoirs of pure ablution water.

The CDA is a very powerful and strong agency in Islamabad. They can issue a regulatory policy of building lakes by housing societies preceding the commencement of construction of houses and commercial plazas. The CDA should add its administration a wing to monitor and supervise the construction of lakes by all housing projects and it should also undertake construction of lakes in all contributory nullahs of NullahLeh. Simultaneously the useless Mulburry trees in Islamabad causing nuisance of allergy every year should be uprooted, eradicated, and we replace by fruit bearing trees. The area reclaimed and retrieved from the blockade of small nullahs should be utilized for plantation of fruit trees. The luxury of ornamental trees should be dispensed with. The fruit trees in open and unfenced areas should be open to the poor segment of our population. It will be a noble idea and enviable example for other development authorities in big cities.

The Director General Military Land and Cantonments, Major General Tariq Zameer has recently inaugurated an underground rain water storage tank in Rawalpindi Cantonment General Hospital colony. The tank has a water storage capacity of 50,000 gallons which would be used by the residents of the colony. The general emphasized that every Cantonment should make efforts to collect and preserve rain water while constructing new buildings. This is an admirable initiative which needs to be multiplied on top priority basis.

It goes without sayings that the implementation of such positive proposals is possible more promptly in Cantonments than in a civil organizations. Cantonments are available in almost all big cities. Therefore the Cantonments should go ahead without any loss of time. The Cantonment Board could seek public participation in Defense Housing Societies/authorities for building rain water reservoir. This is an ideal practical demonstration for the Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA). They should not be mere spectator to lament on the devastation caused by NullahLeh or the problem of ground water level going low day by day due to the huge number of tube wells.

In between the twin cities there are big housing projects mainly launched by DHA and the Bharia Town Housing Authority. The function and designs of housing authority must make it mandatory to build lakes in their sephere of areas, prior to the start of construction of building. There are numerous beautiful spots where natural lakes available which could be rendered in a shape of regular lake with meagre investment but with multipurpose benefits in return. The building of lakes in housing projects could reduce the cost of construction, could feed the requirement of water for vegetation, vegetables and fish farming.

In Gulburg Green scheme Islamabad where houses have been built but the ideal lake sight has not been undertaken so far. Similarly, in the Golf Club area in Phase-VII of Bharia Town potential of a big lake is available. In Phase-VIII a lake view sign board has been displayed for the last so many years simply to charge higher prices for plots and flates in Domanion Mall but no work of construction of a lake has so far been started.

The author is a Retired Additional Chief Secretary and Advocate Supreme Court of AJK.

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