Man-made disasters.

AFTER climate change, man-made factors are the main culprit behind devastating seasonal floods in Pakistan. The first and foremost contributor is the menace of illegal encroachments near river streams and in coastal areas. The mafia of landgrabbers has blocked the natural flow of water by constructing heavy structures and restaurants in its way.

According to a report by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Pakistan, the Indus River, the longest in the country, has reduced flow and coverage area due to encroachments and illegal mass settlements close to its banks. During heavy rains or owing to snowmelts, the river spills over its banks owing to the narrow, and narrowing, riverbed.

Another reason is deforestation of the watershed in Pakistan. Trees near water streams have the capability to hold sudden water run-offs and landslides. Also, large trees and dense forests provide a physical barrier to floods.

As the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) revealed, a typical medium-sized tree can intercept as much as 2,380 gallons of rainwater per year. Sadly, Pakistan has lost 33 per cent of its forest cover since its inception. This loss of forest has increased the risk of frequent floods in the...

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