Survivors stage demos to protest lack of aid

Published: August 11, 2010

Flooding continues unabated in many areas. PHOTO: QAZI USMAN

QUETTA: Like other parts of the country, Balochistan has also been hit hard by flash floods, though the devastation is relatively on a lower scale as the province is sparsely populated and under developed as compared to other provinces.

Lack of response from the government side is trying the patience of flood survivors in Balochistan. On Tuesday, hundreds of flood victims staged demonstrations in Dera Murad Jamali and Loralai districts to protest the inadequate relief operations in their areas. They blocked the National Highway and shouted slogans against the government.

Irate protesters also pelted policemen and Levies personnel with stones. Three law enforcement personnel sustained bruises in the incident.

In Harnai, flood survivors besieged the deputy commissioner’s office in protest against insufficient relief efforts. They said that flash floods swept away 271 mud houses and 100 shops and dozens of cattle in Harnai.

However, Nizar Muhammad Kethran, the assistant commissioner of Duki, said that the government is making all-out efforts to help the affected people. He added that a relief camp has been set up in Ziarat for the affected people of Loni.

While civilian response to the flood tragedy has not been up to the mark, the military has lived up to people’s expectations once again, say opposition parties. Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had an aerial visit of the flood-hit areas of eastern Balochistan. He met with survivors in Naseerabad district and assured them that relief goods were on way to the area. Commissioner Sher Khan Bazai briefed Gen Kayani on the devastation caused by the flood in the region. “The Pakistan Army will take every possible step to help the survivors in this hour of need,” the Army chief said.

Although water is gradually receding, there is no improvement in the situation on ground.

Telecommunication networks in Sohbatpur, Kohlu, Barkhan, Rakni, Duki and Loralai have been destroyed as most telephone exchanges in these districts are inundated. The entire population of Sohbatpur is moving out as a protection wall breached and floodwaters overtook the main city.

The River Nari is in high flood. Officials say fresh floods can affect more than 50,000 people in Sibi. “People have already evacuated Haji Sher, Loni, Machri and adjoining areas to take shelter on high grounds,” an official told The Express Tribune.

The deluge has also affected road and rail network in the province. The train service between Quetta and the rest of the country remained suspended on Tuesday for the second consecutive day. “The tickets will be refunded,” a railway official told The Express Tribune. He refused to give a timeframe for the resumption of the rail service.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani appealed to the federal government and aid agencies to come forward and help the flood survivors. “A large area of the province has been devastated by floods and it is beyond the capacity of the provincial government to rehabilitate the affected people,” he said in a statement.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2010.

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