It seems that the real estate mafia can literally get away with murder. The flash flood in Islamabad on Wednesday followed Tuesday’s rain, and apart from getting into the basement of houses and seeping away a number of vehicles, managed to kill a mother and a son, who were trapped in the flooded basement of the house in which they lived. The two dead do not compare with the 221 killed this year in Europe, but the cause indicates that the tragedy was avoidable. Local residents have said that there had been encroachment on a nullah, thereby preventing the draining of floodwater, and letting it get into residential basements.
The E-11 sector was developed by private housing developers, not the Capital Development Authority, but the CDA was still responsible to ensure that planning requirements were met, that standards were obeyed. However, real estate developers are good at putting heads together with planning authorities, to the mutual profit of both. The Islamabad tragedy is eerily similar to the reason given last year for Karachi’s flooding, of encroachment on drainage channels. That was followed by an anti-encroachment drive, with the apparent result being this year’s absence of such egregious tragedies.
It should be remembered that the monsoons come every year, so this is not a tragedy that can be dismissed as a freak event that will not happen again. That was the attitude in Karachi for too long, and that unfortunate city got a battering year after year, until the task became bigger, and more and more people got involved as potential affectees, but became all the more necessary. The government had claimed that its advent would prevent the kind of corruption that allowed such tragedies. Yet it is presently puffing up real estate developers as the salt of the earth who have kept the economy going during the covid-19 pandemic. Instead of haring off after politicians and bureaucrats, the government should identify and punish those responsible for causing this tragedy. If it does not, there will only be a repetition.