Over 53,000 people from 21 districts in the vicinity of Sutlej River were directed on Saturday to immediately evacuate the riverine belt.
Flash flooding of the river due to dangerously high water levels has claimed the life of at least one person thus far. Faiz Ahmed, a resident of Baili Kalan drowned while herding cattle from the Hathar area. His body was retrieved by rescue officials.
Evacuations continued from Lalika, Chavika, Wazirka, Kot Makhdoom, Bonga Ehsan, Kaku Bodla, Pir Sikandar, Kalia Shah, Jodhika and other nearby areas on Saturday in view of recent warnings issued by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA). Around 4,805 people had been shifted to safer locations by the time this report was filed.
The district management has sought the Pakistan Army’s assistance for relief work along the riverine belt.
Punjab PDMA spokesperson told Express News that the Ganda Singh Wala point of the Sutlej River is in a state of very high flood with a deluge of 278,000 cusecs of water flowing there. The water level has shot up to 23 feet, he added.
A deluge of roughly 80,000 cusecs of water is flowing through Sulemanki Headworks, Okara, near the Indian border, he said.
According to the spokesperson, the PDMA has information of India releasing water into the river every day till August 21, 2023. The increasing water level has threatened existing dam structures along the river and poses an immediate threat to surrounding villages, he said, adding that the water level in Mangla Dam is dangerously high.
Water collected in the dam reached its maximum level of 1,242 feet on Friday, according to the provincial Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA).
The other two major reservoirs – Tarbela and Chashma – had also filled to their maximum levels.
Read Sutlej braces for high flood as India releases more water
The NDMA had earlier issued an advisory warning of rising water levels at Ganda Singh Wala point.
The advisory underlined that as per the water flow data received from the Flood Forecasting Division (FFD), Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), and Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters (PCIW), the high level of flows in the river would persist for the next 24 to 48 hours.
It added that the flows would be reflected and passed on downstream to Sulemanki and Islam Headworks in the next 48 to 76 hours.
In view of probable dangers faced by the areas along the Sutlej River, the NDMA had advised the Federal Flood Commission (FFC) to ensure the implementation of an elaborate coordination mechanism for preparedness and mitigation through the management of water reservoirs, barrages, headworks, and irrigation canals.
“The measures must ensure desynchronised releases from all reservoirs and regulating structures to preclude cumulative flooding in any regions,” the advisory read.