Sutlej River Flooding Causes Devastation in Bahawalpur, Pakistan

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Recently, heavy rainfall in India’s northern states led to the release of excess water in the Sutlej River, causing severe flooding in Bahawalpur city and surrounding areas in Punjab, Pakistan. The river has been in a high-flood state for several weeks, resulting in the submergence of villages and riverine settlements.

To ensure the safety of the residents, the administration successfully evacuated over 128,000 people and more than 50,000 livestock before the water reached these areas. However, several protective dykes were breached, causing extensive damage to the suburbs of Bahawalpur.

Despite the challenges, the district administration managed to protect important infrastructure such as Empress Bridge and the Bahawalpur bridge. Videos shared on social media showed the “unusual diversion” of the Sutlej River as it passed under the bridge, attracting the attention of onlookers.

Currently, the floodwaters are moving downstream towards Ahmedpur East tehsil and Punjnad headworks, where the Sutlej River merges into the Chenab River before flowing into the Indus River. The Ahmedpur East administration and Rescue 1122 have been alerted to take comprehensive relief measures for the affected areas.

The destructive impact of the flooding in Bahawalpur is evident, with three mauzas (settlements) completely affected, 55 partially damaged, and over 47,000 acres of crops destroyed in the district. Farmers in Jalalpur Pirwala expressed concern about the potential loss of cotton, corn, and fodder crops due to the floods.

Residents in flooded areas have criticized the lack of assistance from the government. Shahid Iqbal, a former Union Council chairman, highlighted the contrast between those affected by the calamity and visitors from Bahawalpur city who were visiting the flooded areas for leisure activities.

The Pakistan Meteorological Department’s Flood Forecasting Division has issued a rainfall warning for the next month. Although the forecasts do not predict major flooding in rivers, the Sutlej River’s flow will depend on the amount of water released by India.

According to data from Punjab’s Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), the water level at headworks upstream of Bahawalpur has started receding from a high flood state to a medium state. However, the flooding has already caused significant damage to human settlements and crops in seven districts along the Sutlej River. Approximately 548 villages have been inundated, resulting in the evacuation of 210,912 people.

Rescue operations are ongoing, with the deployment of 254 boats and over 1,000 rescuers in flooded areas. Successful evacuations have been carried out in multiple districts, and medical camps and relief camps have been set up to provide healthcare facilities and essential supplies to the affected population.

As the situation unfolds, authorities continue to monitor the water levels and provide support to those affected by the Sutlej River flooding in Bahawalpur and surrounding areas.

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