Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal Tuesday expressed a strong commitment to reviving the National Flood Protection Programme, initiated by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government during its last tenure but abandoned by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) regime, to safeguard the country from future climate change-related disasters.
He was addressing the inaugural session of a workshop titled “Flood Resilience in Pakistan: Reducing the Risk of Water-Related Disasters” in the federal capital, organised by the Ministry of Planning & Development and the Ministry of Water Resources in collaboration with the Netherlands.
To tackle the confronted challenge of floods and protect the countrymen from climate-related disasters in future, the minister stressed the need for forging an international partnership to benefit from the technologies of developed countries like the Netherlands that shared its experience and knowledge to help Pakistan mitigate future disaster threats.
He hoped that the experts participating in the workshop would help prepare a road road-map under the framework of four ‘Rs’ (Resilient, Recovery, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation), which would ensure an adaptable infrastructure and the required capacity to avoid negative impacts of changing global weather patterns.
He appreciated the Netherlands government for helping Pakistan to face the challenge of climate change and its subsequent disasters in the water sector.
He recalled that in 2010 Pakistan faced a major flooding and in 2013 when PML-N came into power, it immediately started to work out a National Flood Protection Plan with the assistance of experts from the Netherlands.
Accordingly, he said a study report was prepared and approved by the Council of Common Interests (CII), which identified all the potential sources/points where flooding could take place and suggested the required measures for infrastructure development to mitigate losses of possible future floods.
After approval of the study by the CII, he said the government had decided that over the next 10 years, the National Flood Protection Programme to be implemented in two phases with a total cost of around Rs340 billion, of which 50 per cent expense to be borne by the federal government and 50 per cent by provinces.
“But unfortunately after the government changed, during 2018 and 2022, like all the development plans, this plan was also put in the cold storage,” he regretted.
Last year, the minister said, when Pakistan faced unprecedented flooding, a new dimension was added to this constant issue which was rains and flash-flooding, as previously the focus mostly remained on riverine flooding caused by heavy downpours in the country’s northern parts.
“But this time, flooding occurred with unprecedented rainfall in those areas which traditionally have been recipients of either below-average or almost very-average rainfall in the country. And that added a new dimension to flooding in Pakistan.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 17th, 2023.