Small dams are needed to tame flash floods

July 09 - 15, 2007

The cyclone accompanied by heavy rains rendered tens of thousands of people homeless besides a huge death toll running in hundreds in the province of Balochistan last week.

According to an estimate, Balochistan suffered a loss of around Rs10 billion because of cyclone and flood which severally affected over two million people in 15 districts and destroyed roads and communication network. Most affected districts in Balochistan were Turbat, Gwadar, Nasirabad, Kharan, Khuzdar, washak and Nushki.

The total death toll and number of missing people was running in hundreds from the areas like Nal of Khuzdar district where 10 villages were away by flash floods caused by breach in a dam. The flood and rains left nothing in the villages as all mud houses were washed away. Causalities were also reported from Jhal Magsi, Awaran, Kharan, Bolan, Kalat, Turbat, Sibi districts and other parts of the province.

Though it's a natural calamity and no once could be held responsible for the unfortunate mishap, yet there is always room for improvement and that ugly situation could have been averted provided the provincial authorities pay heed to take the wild flood waters by building small dams and water reservoirs which usually flows down from tributaries of the hilly terrains in Balochistan.

Actually, the water is the most sought after commodity in Balochistan and it is because of water scarcity that a massive land bigger than the rest of the country is lying barren and uncultivated. Such rainwater could be put to good use by storing in small reservoir which could ultimate bring a positive change in the socio-economic life style of the people in that province. The floodwaters in monsoon usually disrupt rail and road communications and this was happened this too, which de-linked Quetta and other towns in the province from rest of the country.


The torrential rains however provided a rare opportunity to look at the overflowing spillways of the Hub Dam, which was of course an unusual sight in the water-starved lands of Balochistan. Hub dam is located 35 miles north of Karachi on the Hub River.

The dam has a gross storage of 857,000 acre-feet of water and submerged 20,360 acres of barren land. Its live storage capacity is 760,000 acre-feet, and its expected life is 75 years. The spillway, 6,020 feet long, is located on the right bank and has a discharge capacity of 471,500 cusecs. The crest length of the embankment is 352 ft.

The areas upstream of Mirani dam from the reservoir to Turbat, were inundated causing widespread damage to homes and food stocks, nothing was let in the villages in three union councils of Turbat. Kech Kaur was also in light food and its discharge near Turbat was at 300,000 cusecs. The discharge of Nihing river was also at the level of 300,000 cusecs. People in areas downstream from the Mirani dam reservoir to Sunt Sar where the Dasht river falls into the Arabian sea were force to abbondon their homes due to fear of overflowing Mirani dam and had to take refuge on high ground. People in Balochistan spend much of their efforts and time to fetch drinking water from far off areas round the year.

The rain water flows down from the hilly tributaries can be put to good use by developing small dams and water reservoirs in the water starved province where vast stretch of barren land is lying unutilised only due to absence of sweet water. Recent rains played havoc in Balochistan by disrupting all sort of communications besides claiming hundreds of precious lives.


On he request of the provincial government of Balochistan, the federal government has deployed armed forces including Army and Navy Jawans to carry out rescue operation and supply of food in the flood areas through the province.

All available resources are being used for early rehabilitation of the displaced in the province while a residential Relief Fund has already been set up. There is no doubt that the nation has always responded to the call of distress in case of such eventualities. The corporate sector has donated open heartedly in the President's relief fund besides while UN and some other countries were also sending relief goods and funds for the flood hit areas in Balochistan.

President Pakistan Muslim League Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain has assured the flood-hit people of Balochistan that they should not feel themselves alone in this hour of trial as all PML provincial governments and the party itself would mobilize all resources to help them as they had done with the same spirit during earthquake catastrophe.

Accompanied by PML Secretary General Senator Mushahid Hussain, Federal Minister for Health Muhammed Nasir and Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Resources Mir Nasir Mengal, Shujaat Hussain had a whirlwind tour of the flood affected areas in Balochistan to ascertain the actual losses and sufferings of the people in the wake of devastating floods in Balochistan and Sindh.

The PML President said that he and his delegation wanted to rush immediately to the affected areas to deliver relief goods which that have procured from local market but could not do so for want of helicopter.

He said trucks carrying relief goods have been dispatched from Punjab but they could not reach the affected areas in times as the rains and flood had damaged roads at many places. The PML is sending relief goods to Khuzdar, Nushki, Sibi and Kharan and all other places.

The Federal Health Minister present on the occasion assured full cooperation in providing necessary medicines including anti venom serum, anti tetanus and water purifying tablets in sufficient quantity for distribution among the flood-hit people to save them from water born diseases. He advised the people to drink boiled or filtered water.

He said medicines would be supplied both in Sindh and Balochistan for flood stricken people. The PML Secretary General Senator Mushahid Hussain in response to a question hoped that the international community would also come up with their generous assistance for the people of Balochistan. He welcomed a statement of the UN Secretary General in this regard. He said that a relief center has been set up in the PML central secretariat under his supervision, which is working round the clock to arrange relief for the affected people.

Minister of State Mir Nasir Mengal said that the Federal Government has released a grant of Rs 200 million for relief measures and will provide more funds after survey of the affected areas. He said that Prime Minister has visited Turbat to review the flood disaster and the President would visit the area on Tuesday. The entire nation has come out to help the people of Balochistan.

The government has arranged tents to the marooned people besides food and other items of daily requirement as well as fresh water. The Prime Minister has directed the authorities during his visit of Turbat to arrange tenets. Replying to a question, Nasir Mengal said that the Prime Minister has ordered to deploy maximum number of helicopters for relief operation. The helicopters are being utilized in all affected areas. Provincial Minister Begum Pervin Magsi whose own constituency is the worst hit by flood and torrential rains said that motor boasts were arranged from Karachi to rescue the stranded population in Jhal Magsi district. She called for providing medicines.


It is one of the most disturbing facts that as a nation we have not yet fixed our priorities. Every segment of the society has its own views on national issues. In this hour of trial we should stand united to help our brothers in Balochistan. It is unfortunate that some of the political forces are misusing the mishap in Balochistan against the government of the day. The cyclones, rains or floods are natural phenomena and beyond control of any body, hence nation should fight such eventualities collectively instead of indulging in mud slinging against each other.

Government has chalked a plan of socio-economic development at a massive scale in Balochistan. Gwadar is one of the links of the development chain. It seems that economy of Balochistan is about to bloom. Let help poverty ridden Balochistan to get rid of their sufferings due to extreme poverty by supporting the process of development in that part of the country.