Politics of dykes

September 21, 2014

People have lost temper and hope to see their house and cattle washed away in flood water due to what they believe an unnecessary breach in the dyke

Politics of dykes

"Political vested interest and mismanagement have made us suffer this disaster, leaving us roofless, homeless, and penniless. We have lost our ready-to-harvest crops as a result of inaccurate breach at a wrong time," complains Jam Kashif.

Kashif is a resident of Moza Lalpur, district Muzzafargarh and lives on his five acres of agriculture land. The flooding caused by a breach has washed away his village, inundating his house and crops under 10-11 feet of flood water.

"We are 6-7 kilometers from the River Chenab but the breach is made in Doaba dyke too close to Lalpur," Kashif says.

People have lost temper and hope to see their house and cattle washed away in flood water in a matter of minutes. Flood victims attacked MNA Jamshed Dasti, accusing him of diverting the flood water to their areas.

The irritated mob, carrying sticks in their hands, also broke windowpanes of his vehicle. According to the people, Dasti failed to justify the breach. He had to flee on a motorbike. Dasti accuses that local administration is responsible for devastation. Police have registered cases against Dasti and his 200 unknown persons.

"Over 70 per cent cotton and other crops have been destroyed in Muzaffargarh at 10, 3000 acres and 1, 16, 613 acres in Multan because of heavy flood," says Assistant Director Agriculture Information, Naveed Kahlun.

Villagers in Lalpur say the Union Council 38 covers the maximum flooded area where people supported Jamshed Dasti’s candidate in the last general elections and didn’t poll vote in favour of the PML-N.

"The administration cannot let down PML-N MPA, Hamaad Nawaz Tipu, who is believed to be a partner of Khawaja Saad Rafiq and Hamza Shahbaz Sharif in poultry business. Tipu allegedly influenced the administration to make the breach in dykes to teach a lesson to people for betraying him in the last polls," says AB Mujahid, a senior journalist in Muzaffargarh.

The civil society believes the issue of making breaches in security dykes has already been politically motivated, instead of merit.

"We all know very well that construction of a primary school and health centre is decided on political grounds. The more powerful you are, the higher the likelihood of having development in your area. How can one expect that a decision to construct a dyke or, for that matter, breach it could be made on the basis of merit?" asks Sarwar Bari, national coordinator Pattan Development Organization.

Five breaches have been made in Multan River Chenab at Sher Shah and Head Muhammadwala dykes, which has disconnected road link between Multan and Muzaffargarh.

Sarwar Bari is surprised why floodwater has always been diverted to Saraiki areas? Looking at the breaches of Doaba and Athara Hazari dykes, he says the contesting parties in areas tried their best to interfere in the decision making. He stresses revisiting the Standard Operating Procedures and amends them in the light of best practices around the world.

Talking to TNS, PML-N MPA, Hamaad Nawaz Tipu, denies that political influence played any part in the breaches of dykes in Muzaffargarh. Tipu says it is quite impossible because all actions are decided by a high level committee of civil and military officials. The Punjab government constitutes those committees to decide making a breach.

MNA Jamshed Dasti complains that despite the fact that he is an elected MNA the local administration is not coordinating or cooperating with him at any stage.

He says floodwater entered Muzaffargarh because of the cut that occurred in the Talari canal bund where low and substandard material was used in construction. A breach was created in Doaba flood spur No 1 when water was receding to three feet and it was made just to divert floodwater to another direction to save a textile mill.

Politics of dykes