Sunday, August 29, 2010

Floods and the mighty Indus

Mighty Indus is being blamed for its ferocity;too big to be predicted or protected against? May be too convenient an excuse on the part of those who are blamed for inaction and mismanagement.And there are others who almost gave in to the mighty Indus and started worshiping it in the province of Sindh, celebrated a Devta Sindh day.Some participants offered milk and some kind of Bhaint ,it was reported.Mighty Indus has responded with a lot of bounty.Indus river definitely important for us,as our resourceful country has only one river and the rainfall is too less on the average.Occasionally in monsoon period,excessive rains possibly in combination with excess melting of glaciers, we get floods as we are experiencing now.

Let us see how big is Indus.Is it one of the largest rivers in the world , as super-patriots and conspiracy theorists would like to believe.Far from it.Indus is not big by global standards.It comes in a rank of 26th,take what ever criterion.Indus has a length of 3180 kms,drainage area of 0.96 square kms , and a mean discharge of 7160 cubic meters per second(250,000 cft per sec).
In the current floods,we have experienced 1 million cusecs(cubic feet per second).By comparison, river Amazon in Brazil,the greatest river on earth,has a drainage area of 6.915 square kilometers and a mean discharge rate of 219,000 cubic meters per second,almost thirty times as much water as Indus and 7.7 times the current flood discharge of Indus.Indian rivers of Ganga and Jamna are 2-3 time bigger in flow/discharge.River Congo in Africa is 41,500 cubic meters per second,more than five times that of Indus;similarly Yangtze of China with 31,900 cumecs.So let the size or might of Indus not scare people into submission and provide justification for inefficiency ,if not insensitivity.

On the other hand death toll of floods ,although lamentable,has not exceeded beyond 2500 or so.Perhaps disease may increase this number in future,God forbid.In previous floods death toll used be in the range of 30-40000.Certainly things have changed over the years due to technology,media,communication and development activities.New organisations have been formed ,and there are national and international NGOs.World community and mutual inter-actions have expanded.

We are told that the low profile Federal Flood Commission deals with the flood issues.NDMA has not much to do with it accept for flood relief work.Did one notice the profile of FFC.It has been a total failure in so far as communication is concerned.They have put up a website which appears to be still in development phase. I could download their advisories with a lot of difficulty on my fast broadband internet connection,because instead of putting it in PDF ,they scanned their letters and uploaded the same on their web-site,making the file heavy(several Mb).This explains more or less the outlook of the organisation.This must change for the better.

There is nothing to download in the download section.The so called Flood Manual supposed to have been developed by this organisation is not there,neither has it been made available elsewhere.Perhaps it is confidential ! Flood maps,GIS,inundation forecasts and risks.This perhaps is too much to be expected from an antiquated organisation.A review of this organisation into its functioning and output,organisational structure and outlook is highly recommended.The problem is that this time flood came after a gap of more than ten years.People forget floods and remember it when the next one wakes them.But these organisations are maintained throughout with ever increasing budgets and projects.

Provincial irrigation departments,although inept,corrupt and antiquated much more than the FFC,are receiving the public wrath rather exclusively.FFC must be included in this displeasure.

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