Floods in Pakistan result of deforestation, dam construction: Experts

     It's Independence Day for Pakistan, but there seems to be no freedom from the floods that have been ravaging the country since the past few weeks. Already termed the worst flooding to hit Pakistan for 80 years, this deluge has affected millions of people, and so far over 1,600 have died. "What sets this year apart from others is the intensity and localisation of the rainfall," Nature quoted Ramesh Kumar, a meteorologist at the National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, India, as saying. "Four months of rainfall has fallen in just a couple of days," he added. According to experts, it's not just the exploding population that has worsened the natural environment in Pakistan, but also extensive deforestation and the building of dams for irrigation and power generation across tributaries of the Indus River. And landmines that are being transported by the floodwaters are thwarting relief mission. Although, the death toll is very less compared to the 2004 Asian tsunami, the scale of the tragedy continues to increase, with around 14 million people in immediate need of emergency aid. Water-borne diseases are yet another issues lurking in the near future. The fear is that a lack of sanitation will see the fatal diarrhoeal disease spreading. "The Pakistan floods and stagnant waters may also cause an increase in malarial cases," said Sandy Cairncross, public health engineer at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. For preparation to face such disasters in future, the Pakistan government has to build adequate flood defences along the Indus River, where most of southern Pakistan's population live, and improving flood-forecasting systems. Experts also said that as the atmosphere gets warmer, rainfall will increase every year. But many researchers believe that the present flooding may be part of a longer-term trend. "Climate change will be a small but steady contributor to rainfall in the region," said Jeff Knight, climate variability expert at the UK Met Office Hadley Centre.

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