While the fury of Chenab River weakened as it crossed Panjnad Headworks, where all five rivers of Punjab converge, without harming it, the floodwaters wreaked havoc deep in the heart of southern Punjab.
The discharge in the river at Panjnad was about 450,000 cusecs because of breaches made at several points upstream and downstream Trimu, diverting the floodwater to human settlements to reduce the onslaught on the dam. The discharge was earlier estimated at 700,000 cusecs.
The Flood Forecasting Division also revised its earlier warning of “high to very high flood” for Sindh province in the Indus River at Guddu and Sukkur because of the weakening of peak in Chenab. Now there were chances of “medium to high flood” in the Indus at the two bridges by Thursday, it added.
Torrential rains and floods in Chenab and Jhelum rivers have so far claimed 239 lives in north-eastern and southern Punjab.
According to the Punjab government, most deaths were reported in Sialkot, where driving rain and flooding of Chenab and its nullahs played havoc for several days. Thirty-four people have died in Sialkot, 28 in Lahore, 18 in Multan, 17 in Kasur, 14 in Faisalabad and 13 each in Jhelum and Rawalpindi. The flood in Chenab was diverted to Alipur and Jatoi tehsils on Tuesday evening because of breaches in Zamindara and Sarki embankments, forcing hundreds of families to leave their homes.
According to district officials, 65 per cent area of Muzaffargarh city was hit by the flood and its outskirts were still under water. The river’s embankment at Shehr Sultan was under threat and the residents were asked by the administration to move to safer places.
There was a shortage of food, milk and petrol in Alipur town as all its links with Muzaffargarh remained suspended. Milk was being sold at Rs100 per litre and people were waiting for government relief.
Earlier, the administration and the army had shifted 35,000 people of the villages around the headworks to safe places and nine relief camps. But most people preferred to stay at protective dykes.
When we choose to look away for good, we are as complicit as those at the helm of this atrocity
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