Monday, August 2, 2010

Flood in Pakistan a man made calamity

The number of causalities and the vast devastation brought with floods of 2010's monsoon in Pakistan are sad and shocking and we should support the victims as much as we can. Every one was very happy when the rains started during the mid of July and had no idea that these rains would lead to divesting natural calamity in the coming weeks. Calamity we may say but can we really call it natural? and if floods are a natural phenomena then there must be a solution in place for them by nature.
It seems so bizarre that humans who pretend to know the best act so ignorantly towards nature, mostly never considering the consequences.

Floods in Pakistan like every where else in the world are natural, but the destruction and damage caused by them is almost always man made. Accounts of the Indus river from the times of Alexander's campaign indicate a healthy forest cover in the region, which has now considerably receded. The Mughal Emperor Babur writes of encountering rhinoceroses along its bank in his memoirs (the Baburnama).

Extensive deforestation and human interference in the ecology of the rive banks has led to deterioration in vegetation and growing conditions. The Indus valley regions are arid with poor vegetation now. Massive deforestation of the
KATCHA initially under the British Raj and then by the common man and Pakistani government has lead to an almost non existent flood fact massive human settlements have sprung all over what was 30 miles of Jungle on each side of river Indus. This massive jungle on river banks was commonly know as KATCHA in Sindh and Punjab, and acted as a flood buffer with thousands of natural dips in the elevation of its scape. During monsoon all the KATCHA area would come under the flood which would contain it to a great extent, slowing down the water spill to the agricultural flood plains. Even until 1870's most of the agriculture done on the agricultural flood plains was done after the flood water started seeping out of the KATCHA. Thus human settlements were obviously protected by these two natural buffers, the KATCHA & the agricultural flood plains. The jungle on the river banks would also release its organic content to the agricultural flood plains making them fertile.

The banks of river Indus should be declared as conservation land and the human settlements should be moved inland, the conservation areas should be reforested with man made water containing dips or pockets.... undoubtedly this would be a plan which would be executed by generations of Indus dweller, but this is the only natural solution because even a 100 dams cant contain the mighty Indus....

Above Image: Notes from field by Imran who is part of the Pakistan Wetlands Programme of WWF - Pakistan.


  1. Yes, that's right, even a 100 dams can't contain the mighty Indus. Environmental disasters usually require precautionary measures; things should be done before something devastating happens. If not, then mitigation methods should be improvised for later chaos.

  2. Yes we need flood and earth sustaining simple architecture and a community support system.


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