MULTAN/MUZAFFARGARH: Floodwater is increasing in the Chenab River though five breaches were made in the dykes of Head Muhammadwala and Shershah Bridge by the authorities to reduce the water pressure and save the people living across the river belt.
The authorities, however, confirmed no immediate threat to Multan’s urban population. The first breach was made at 11:15am while the second was made on Friday afternoon. Later, the third breach was made near Shershah Toll Plaza, diverting the floodwater towards Shujabad.
The size of the breaches was 100-150 feet between Head Muhammadwala and Shershah Bridge. It has also cut off the road link between Multan, Kot Addu and Jhang.
Technically, the breach allows water to divert to dykes and flow into floodwater. The breach did not cause any damage to the people living across the Head Muhammadwala. Multan’s Irrigation XEN (Operation) Zahid Hussain said the breach did not mean that the residential areas were at stake.
As the floodwater moved further towards south, the water level started increasing in Multan, Muzaffargarh, Punjnad and Mithan Kot. The Trimmu Headworks safely discharged 392,734 cusecs on Friday afternoon.
It had discharged 650,000 cusecs between Wednesday and Thursday night and the water level had started receding slowly.
Crops on 800,000 acres of land have been affected by the floods in Jhang, Multan and Muzaffargarh districts.The displaced families complained that those distributing food were indulging in favouritism. Muzaffargarh DCO Hafiz Shaukat Ali told The News that at least 14 people had died of snakebites, electrocution and drowning.
He said the breach point at the dyke was changed on the demand of the people of Muhammadwala dyke has been blown some 27km away from the previous site.
As many as 27 villages, including Muhammadpur Ghota, have been flooded,” he said, adding that the National Highway Authority had opposed the breaches in Shershah and Doaba dykes. “Now the first option was Muhammadwala and then Shershah.”
The DCO said total 1.5 million people of southern Punjab were affected due to the flood in River Chenab. Multan DCO Zahid Saleem Gondal told The News that 200 villages of Multan have so far been inundated, while 30 villages of Ahmedpur Sial, 70 of Kabirwala and 27 of Rangpur had been flooded.
According to a press release issued by the ISPR, over 22,000 people have shifted to safe places in Multan and Muzaffargarh. Similarly, red alert has been declared in Uch Sharif and army men have been deployed there.
Brig Mukhtar Ahmed said 1,500 relief camps had already been set up in Multan and Muzaffargarh to accommodate the people. Muzaffargarh ADCG Sikandar Zulqarnain Khichi said the discharge at Head Muhammadwala was 550,000 cusecs while it was 350,000 cusecs at Shershah in the morning and the water level was rising.
As the exceptionally high flood in Chenab River was crossing Head Muhammadwala on Friday, the Punjab authorities feared floods in Multan and Muzaffargarh because of changes in breaches at Muhammadwala and Shershah.
The committee changed the breach place from Doaba to Head Muhammadwala at midnight to save Muzaffargarh.