The canals and drains that fell apart in the monsoon rains and flooded lower Sindh will be fixed on President Asif Ali Zardari’s directives.
“We have to now focus on investment on these drains, including the LBOD, otherwise people will not be able to grow their crops,” he stressed, as he looked over footage of relief and rehabilitation measures in Umerkot, Thatta and Tando Allahyar at Bilawal House on Thursday.
The areas’ representatives, such as MNAs, MPAs and district officials, answered questions, made suggestions and laid out their plans for the government via the cells in Sanghar and Umekot.
Governor Ishratul Ebad was with the president at the Special Control Room while Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah looked on from the control room set up at CM House.
The gathering discussed at length measures being taken to save lives and provide food and clean drinking water to stranded people. The president revealed that he had asked commercial banks to provide farmers who lost their crops interest-free loans and growers will also be given seed and fertiliser free of charge.
Zardari then addressed the issue of fake NGOs who are minting money on the pretext of relief work. “The president has asked government officials to keep an eye on these NGOs,” said an official.
The disaster management authority was at the receiving end of criticism as the gathering observed it was their responsibility to distribute relief goods and they have not done so. “A big cache of necessary goods are lying stocked in different warehouses and have yet to be distributed to those affected by last year’s floods,” they said.
The president asked the national disaster authority’s chief to deal with this and take action against negligent officials.
Later, the president’s spokesperson, Farhatullah Babar, told the media that ‘Pakistan cards’ will be distributed from today (Thursday) in Badin and Thatta districts.
Reiterating the orders, he made the day before, the president called for fumigation drives and asked the federal and provincial authorities to import mosquito repellent and nets.
The majority of the demands were for tents, drinking water, food and medicine, he observed and asked the provincial health department to keep an eye on the demand, supply and quality of medicine being supplied. Addressing another concern overlooked by those on the outside, the president asked that the carcasses of dead livestock be buried to prevent the outbreak of diseases.
Given that the country’s tent-making capacity only allowed them to make about 7,000 to 8,000 a day, the government has decided to import tents to meet the demand.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2011.