Pakistan: Overflowing lake washes away towns, villages

DADU: Water overflowing from the Manchhar lake inundated two towns and 70 villages in Sehwan and Johi talukas on Monday.

After flooding Jhangara town, the water from the lake has entered Bajara town and is now gushing towards adjoining villages of Sehwan.

The water level in the lake rose to 119.7 RL (reduced level) on Monday night, surpassing the danger level of 116 RL.

The irrigation authorities have decided to make a cut and widen the head of Aral canal regulator to reduce the water level in Manchhar lake. More than 1,000 cusecs will be discharged into the Indus from a cut at the canal in the north of Sehwan town. A small bypass was made to release the lake water into the Indus.

Following the decision of a committee set up by Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah to give way to the water from Tori bund breach coming from Qambar-Shahdadkot district, irrigation officials have started work on widening the Aral head canal by 15 to 20 feet.

Provincial Finance Minister Murad Ali Shah, a member of the committee, told reporters that after visiting several flood-affected areas, the committee had decided that gates of regulator of the Main Nara Valley (MNV) drain in Hamal lake would be closed temporarily to reduce pressure on the drain and the lake.

Over 5,000 people of various villages in Johi and Sehwan, near Manchhar lake, are stranded on Neheng-Jhangara road and over 20,000 in Jhangara town. They were facing difficulties in shifting their families to safe areas because of shortage of vehicles.

Jamshoro DCO Samiuddin Siddique stopped on Monday supply of drinking water to Sehwan from Indus water schemes after the release of Manchhar water into the river. He warned the villagers not to consume the river water because it was contaminated and could cause diseases.

People in Bubak, Pakka Channa and Dal areas complained about shortage of vehicles and high fares.

Idrees Rajput, an irrigation expert, said the water was exerting pressure on embankments of Manchhar lake. He called for strengthening the embankments to avert a disaster.

He said that pressure was high at the Zero Point in Manchhar and stones should be dumped at the site.

Mr Rajput said the situation would not have worsened if 5,000 cusecs had been released into the Indus through its link some 15 days ago.

The high pressure of water washed away iron and steel plates installed to stop embankments of Manchhar lake and the MNV drain from eroding. The floodwater continued to erode the Zero Point.

Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah visited Manchhar lake on Sunday evening. He told reporters that pressure on embankments along the lake was high, but it could sustain the pressure for six or seven days.

The water from MNV drain has damaged the main bridge between Johi and Dadu, in Chandan town. The bridge has been closed to traffic and its repair started.

A breach in the flood protective embankment at Mian-Ji-Kandi has been plugged. However, seven breaches in Khuda Wah and one in the FP bund at Maroo-Ja-Tulah have yet to be plugged. The water from the breaches was moving towards Mehar and Khairpur Nathan Shah towns.

Waters pouring into the Manchhar lake are threatening several towns and forcing tens of thousands of people to flee, officials said on Monday.

As floodwaters make their way to the Arabian Sea, new towns in Sindh are being inundated as embankments constructed to protect cities and towns in the flood plains are now channeling water into new areas, including Manchhar lake.

Tens of thousands of people have fled towns in Dadu district, and officials said more were asked to leave after water, flowing from a breached embankment, reached a dangerous point in the lake.

“Our entire concentration is now on Dadu as the water is just a few inches from overtopping the Manchhar lake that could threaten many towns,” Additional Relief Commissioner Riaz Ahmed Soomro said.

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