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flood rains in sindh

September 29, 2013

CHAPTER 2
DISASTER RISKS IN THE PROVINCE
The province of Sindh has historically suffered from both natural and human
induced disasters. The high level of risk is mainly from floods/ heavy rains, cyclones
in coastal area, sea intrusion, droughts, earthquakes, epidemics etc.
2.1 FLOODS/ RAINS
The topography of Sindh Province is almost flat and located at the bottom of
Indus basin. The surplus water of Indus River and its tributaries including monsoon
has to pass through Sindh. Hill torrents which emanate from Balochistan are also
adding up to the pressure on both account, till its outfall in the Arabian sea. The
River Indus in Sindh is dangerous, because it flows at ridge. In case of breach the
out flowing water can not be drained back into the river at any point. The Indus River
is also popular for changing its course.
High floods since the creation of modern irrigation network in 1932 are being
monitored. The river Indus is contained by flood protection embankments which are
1400 miles, so as to protect irrigation network emanating from three barrages having
12.8 million acres’ 0f command area. Besides, there is a large network of surface
drainage and 6000 public tube wells, roads, railways network, cities / towns, rural
settlements etc. The high floods occurred during 1942, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1973,
1975, 1976, 1979, 1992, 1994, 1995, 2003, 2005 and 2007.
Rains of 2003 monsoon in Sindh have affected around 411,000 acres of crop
area, while 18,500 kilometres of road infrastructure suffered huge losses. Roughly
losses are estimated around 45 billion rupees. This estimate includes crop damage,
damage to health, education and road infrastructure, damage to houses and
destruction of irrigation and drainage facilities.
2.2 CYCLONES
The coastal districts have also been adversely affected by heavy rainfall and
cyclones. The districts of Thatta and Badin have been badly affected on several
occasions. Cyclones not only wiped out the human settlements and resulted in the
huge losses of human and animal lives, but they also destroyed and damaged
fishing boats, therefore badly affected the livelihood of the majority of residents of
these two districts.
Historically, the tropical cyclones formed over the Arabian sea and making
landfall at the coastal areas of Sindh. Major cyclones reaching Sindh during the last
100 years happened in May 1902, June 1926, June 1964. Nov. 1993, June 1998,
May 1999 and June 2007 (Cyclone– 02A). Keti Bunder town was wiped out four
times in recent history.
2.3 TSUNAMI
The Sindh province can be a recipient of a tsunami disaster. A tsunami
6
disaster occurred in November 1945 at Makran coast in Balochistan Province. It
produced sea waves of 12-15 meters height that killed about 4,000 people. Although
Karachi was away from the epicentre, but still it experienced 6 feet high sea waves
which affected harbour facilities. This happened during the months of March , April
and May.
The effects of tsunami of December, 2004 were also felt along the Pakistan
coastline. Abnormal rise in water detected by tide gauge station at Keti Bander area
created panic in the coastal population including Karachi.
2.4 DROUGHT
Sindh geographically can be divided into four zones namely eastern desert,
western hilly / mountainous area, coastal area in the south and irrigated agriculture
area in the middle. Its 60% area is arid receiving rainfall on average of 5 inches
during monsoon and very little in December & January. The arid area people depend
upon the scanty rainfall raising livestock and millet crops. The failure of rainfall and
global climatic effects reduce the water supplies in Indus River System (IRS). Sindh
being at the fag end of the system usually takes the brink. Besides, two-third of
ground water is brackish and 80% agricultural land is affected by water logging and
salinity.
Arid area people usually move to canal commanded area but low flow in the
river Indus from 1998-2002 created havoc in the entire province. Historically, Sindh
faced the worst drought situation during 1871, 1881, 1899, 1931, 1942 and 1999.
The last one persisted till the year 2002. Around 1.4 million people, 5.6 million cattle
head and 12.5 million acres cropped area were affected. The ground water depleted
to 30-40 feet, and the quality became poor. As a result of malnutrition, disease
erupted. The cultivated area reduced in 1998 from 3.415 mi llion acres to 2.611
million acres. The most affected was wheat area 22% and rice almost 35%. Besides,
cultivated area grew poor crops, which created food scarcity all over Sindh, except
for a couple of districts. There was tremendous drop out (about 27%) in schools, due
to drought situation.
2.5 EARTHQUAKE
The latest earthquake that affected Sindh desert area was recorded in the
year 2001 in Tharparkar district and the bordering Badin District was also badly
affected. Due to this earthquake 12 people lost their lives, 115 persons got injured,
1989 houses were fully damaged, 43643 houses partially damaged and 1406 public
sector buildings got damaged. Loss in financial terms was recorded around Rs. 2.4
billion.
A geological tectonic line runs under Karachi through Khirthar Hills /
Mountains to north-west of Sindh and Thar desert, due to which Sindh has risk of a
major earthquake in the future.
In addition to above, Sindh i

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