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A number of tributaries also join the Indus from the west.These are fast-flowing hill torrents that bring down huge quantities of silt during the monsoons (because the Himalayas is one of the youngest mountain ranges in the world, rivers that originate there like the Indus bring down enormous quantities of sediments in the form of sand, silt and clay).
Such unusual occurrences – called ‘blocking events’ – have taken place in the past, and have resulted in unusual weather phenomena.
This year, as the jet stream became stationary, unusually hot summers led to the breakout of wildfires in Western Russia, and unprecedented rains poured down the slopes of the Western Himalayas.
To increase the area under irrigation in Pakistan, more and more of the waters of the Indus River have been diverted in recent decades into nearby farms.
Many of these farms are owned by the richer farmers who have, with state support and over the years, built levees or embankments along the river to protect their farms from the occasional floods.
When levees are built along the banks, the sediments get deposited on the river bed, which gradually rises above the surrounding plains.
Not only does this enhance the flood risk, the levees standing as walls also make it difficult for the floodwater to return back into the channel once it has spilled over.Some areas in Northern Pakistan received more than three times their annual rainfall in a matter of 36 hours.Gushing quickly down the tributaries into the Indus River, the rainwaters gave rise to floods of catastrophic proportions.Why could the river not flush out the excess waters?This is where human intervention – in terms of water resource planning and infrastructure development – played an important role in the floods.This short essay investigates some of those questions.A pinch of geography is necessary to explain why Pakistan received such an extraordinary amount of rain during this rainy season.With funding from the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, a series of barrages have been built along the hill slopes to prevent their waters from reaching the Indus.When many of these barrages failed, they added waters to the already inflated Indus and contributed to further worsening of the flood situation.September 2010: Pakistan is suffering its worst flood crisis in living memory.As of late August, nearly 18 million people, including 8.6 million children, had been affected.