Flood-affected people sit beside a wrecked house along a river following heavy monsoon rains in Mingora, a town in Pakistans northern Swat valley on August 28, 2022. — AFP

Flood devastation in Swat incalculable

by Pakistan News
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Flood-affected people sit beside a wrecked house along a river following heavy monsoon rains in Mingora, a town in Pakistan’s northern Swat valley on August 28, 2022. — AFP
  • Govt official says losses caused by floods are likely to be in billions of rupees.
  • Says KP govt should seek assistance in rescue and relief operations in province.
  • Road between Bahrain and Kalam built for Rs10bn washed away in flash floods.

Flood-related losses and devastation to infrastructure between Kalam, Bahrain and adjoining hilly areas of Swat is beyond imagination as a government official said it was too early to predict the amount of damage.

“The losses are likely to be in billions of rupees and beyond capacity of the provincial government to handle,” an official said.

Pleading anonymity, he said the KP government must sink personal political differences with the federal government and should seek assistance in the rescue and relief operations in the flood-affected areas of the province.

The road between Bahrain and Kalam which was built in 2018 for Rs10 billion cost, no longer exists for several kilometres as it was washed away in the flash floods. There is no more hustle and bustle in Bahrain bazaar and the once busy tourist destination is now wearing a deserted look, The News reported.

Most of the hotels were swept away by the floodwaters. The beautiful narrow bazaar seems like a river as the river water is now flowing on the main road as if there was no road before at all.

The two bridges, a masjid and a number of hotels and other infrastructures have been damaged beyond repair. Keeping in view four years rule of the PTI at the Centre, one can’t hope they will ever repair the roads and bridges in future as former federal communications minister Murad Saeed could not build a few bridges on the Kalam-Bahrain road during his tenure, though some people believe he had delayed the bridges to inflict losses to the party’s political rival Amir Muqam as the contract had been allotted to his construction company.

Similarly, the rescue and relief operation started by the KP government is stated to be quite slow and not organised. There is only one helicopter, offered by Chief Minister Mahmood Khan for the rescue and relief operations.

The helicopter is airlifting 100 people daily, mostly tourists stranded in the scenic Kalam area. They are moved to safe places in the Saidu Sharif Airport near Mingora.

“The situation is deteriorating day by day here in Kalam and nearby villages. It is becoming out of control of the assistant commissioners who cannot handle the challenging situation,” a government official said.

Wishing not to be named, he said the local community is losing patience as their genuine issues are not being heeded.

“People warned us today they would not let the helicopter land in Kalam if they were not taken in the helicopter to downtown. Their concerns are genuine and the government needs to listen to them,” he said.

Most of the people lost hope to be airlifted from Kalam and started walking toward Bahrain on foot. Those who took the risky journey told this correspondent that it took them seven hours to cover the 24 kilometres of road and get into Bahrain.

They said they had to take a serious risk as there was no road and they had to scale the hills in different places.As if it was not enough, the tension between the PTI-led KP government and the federal government is badly affecting the rescue services as the losses are beyond the capacity and means of the provincial government.

The affected people said it was time for the PTI government in KP to shun political rivalries and utilise the resources of the federal government for the rescue and relief of the calamity-hit areas of the province.

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