Friday, May 13, 2011

A hard-hitting book on Pakistan's 2010 floods

Jan Khaskheli the News (Pakistan): A recently published book ‘The Indus Flood 2010, Perspectives, Issues and Strategies’ has raised many questions regarding the forest cleaning, land encroachment, weakening embankments and government’s ill-planning to reduce the risk of disaster. The book is a collection of 44 published and unpublished articles on diverse range of topics related to the Indus Flood 2010, and authored by eminent people.

A renowned naturalist Nasir Ali Panhwar has compiled the book, published by the Centre for Environment & Development (Cead) in collaboration with South Asia Partnership (SAP). This collection of articles reflects views on various aspects of the floods with particular focus on climate change and environmental degradation. The dilemmas and difficulties faced by the people during and after the flood have been highlighted and discussed in detail in the book.

The authors think that the nature of the debate, specifically on the controversial Kalabagh Dam in the aftermath of the flood disaster, is flawed. Not only the debate is politically divisive for an already fragile federation, it also covers up the story of engineering failures, which led to this disaster. They suggested that reconstruction, without the benefits of an honest analysis, would be tantamount to recreating the same situation or even worse in the future.

The presence of forests generally ensures the smooth flow of water, in case of heavy rains. Trees and vegetation cover also prevent soil erosion and landslides, which can otherwise exacerbate the wrath of flood waters in these areas. But the government authorities had leased out the land to certain people on political grounds, putting the environment and communities at stake to face the challenges, like the flood.

The authors urged the need to review the earlier decisions, retrieve the forest lands to avert any mishap in future. Because the predictions reveal that the flood may come again and cause further destruction….

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