ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman on Thursday said abnormal monsoon rains would remain a regular feature and the country’s overall infrastructure was not ready for such disasters which would lead to severe humanitarian crisis.
The minister was expressing these views at the Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change presided by Senator Seemee Ezdi held here that discussed the prevailing weather conditions, monsoon rain damages and glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) events management. Sherry briefed the forum that the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) or MET office, which comes under the Ministry of Aviation, was responsible for weather warnings. She said that it was the role of the provincial government for preventive measures and rescue and relief operations.
She added the MET office warnings which were loud and clear, were of no use since the provincial governments did not have the capacity to rescue a disaster because of its infrastructure, road construction and poor rain water drainage system.
She said that as long as the nullahs (water channels) would not be cleared and the country would not equip itself with enough resources there would be no way forward. “All the stake holders should sit together and work on a plan each contributing to redress this problem which will now seem to occur regularly as the climate change occurs globally.” Senator Taj Haider, while discussing possible solutions to address such calamities, said the country was also lacking water reservoirs, through which adversity could be changed into opportunity and accumulate water, addressing the issue of water scarcity.
The Secretary Ministry for Climate Change also argued that early warning was area-specific as certain areas could not forecast due to lack of modern equipment. He said that one million people were residing at the bed of the River Indus when the flood occured and these residents disseminated in the local area which continued to disrupt the rescue and relief operation. The committee unanimously believed that a national action plan and its implementation is the need of the day.
Senator Farooq Hamid Naek also pointed out that concurrent list was missing which had also led to climate disaster in the country. The committee stressed that it’s the time legislation should be formulated to prepare the country for natural disasters due to rapid climate change globally. It was also decided to work on national simulation exercise to validate and enhance preparedness and response plans, procedures and systems for all hazards and capabilities. Senator Faisal Javed also proposed the committee to take briefing from the Ministry of Climate Change on the National Adaptation Policies for Climate Change on priority basis in the next meeting.
The chairman National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) briefed the committee that the National Emergency Operation Center (NEOC) was operational 24/7 which was continuously monitoring daily occurrences and was in coordination with all disaster management stakeholders including the UN agencies, donor NGO’s and media.
He informed that Pakistan was amongst the top ten vulnerable countries in global climate risk index. The committee was briefed that the NDMA exercised multiple scenarios on 28th and 29th June for better assimilation of disasters.
The committee was also briefed by the NDMA on mass awareness programs and rescue activities. The NDMA said a total of 11,639 rescue activities had been taken place across the country, and 78 relief camps were set up which accommodated 23,061 affectees. The committee was also apprised that from 13th June till date, 575 (with a maximum of 176 in Balochistan and 127 and 119 in Sindh and Punjab respectively) deaths occurred due to monsoons rains and 939 injuries took place across the country. The meeting was attended by Senator Faisal Javed, Mohammad Humayun Mohmand, Keshoo Bai, Taj Haider, Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Abida Muhammad Azeem, Farooq Hamid Naek, and Senator Mushtaq Ahmed Khan. Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman, Chairman NDMA Lt Gen Akhtar Nawaz along with senior officials of the attached departments were also in attendance.