Relief activities transferred from Civil Defence; preparations underway; some emergency staff worried. ILLUSTRATION: MOHSIN ALAM RAWALPINDI:
Starting this year, flood relief activities will be provided by Rescue 1122, the Punjab emergency service, after provincial authorities directed the Civil Defence Department to hand over its equipment to the former.
The office of the Civil Defence (CD) district officer has already handed over a motorboat, a recently purchased 40 horsepower engine, 16 life jackets, nine life preservers and other equipment to Rescue 1122 following a notification issued by the district coordination officer (DCO) on June 11.
The district government issued the order after the Punjab governor issued a notification on May 28, which shifted authority over all flood relief activities to Rescue 1122, except for bomb disposal which will remain the exclusive domain of the Civil Defence.
According to the governor’s notification, the decision was to be implemented with immediate effect and was taken to avoid overlaps between the functions of the two departments.
In Rawalpindi, the Civil Defence has been looking after flood and other relief activities along with other rescue department in the low-lying areas of Nullah Leh.
“As the rainy season has just set in, this changing of the guards could prove dangerous for residents of areas that are most at risk,” said Muhammad Khalil, an emergency volunteer with the CD.
He said there are over 1,500 trained volunteers with the department, and a majority of these workers were always ready to respond to emergencies, especially during the monsoon.
CD District Officer Tayyaman Raza confirmed to The Express Tribune that his office had handed over flood-relief equipment to Rescue 1122 on the directions of the DCO.
Raza said his office had also provided the rescuers with a flood management plan prepared by his office to help them cope with any emergency during the rainy season.
Sharing details of the plan, he said they had pointed out as many as 18 localities around Nullah Leh and around other drains that present a flood risk during heavy downpour.
“Now,” he added, “CD has nothing to do with flood-related activities in the city.”
Rescue 1122 District Emergency Officer Abdul Rehman said his team was ready to cope with any emergency and that the holidays of rescue staff had been put off till September 15.
Rehman said that the rescue office routinely receives updates from the Meteorological Department and the early warning system installed at the Rawal Town administration office will function 24 hours a day.
He added that the health department, police and CD would remain on alert till September and would closely monitor the situation to be prepared for any emergency.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2011.
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