Chief Minister Raisani hits back at critics

Express June 07, 2010

QUETTA: Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani has said that his government is doing “all it can” to help the people affected by Cyclone Phet on the Makran coast.

He was speaking on the floor of the Balochistan Assembly which met with Speaker Aslam Bhootani in the chair.

“Some people are criticising the provincial government for criticism’s sake.  And they are making statements for media consumption,” Raisani said, adding that they had put in place precautionary measures which saved precious lives.

“I couldn’t visit Gwadar due to inclement weather. But now since the weather is clear, I will visit Gwadar along with a team to assess the damage done by the storm,” he said. “I’ll also meet chief of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to devise a strategy for tackling post-cyclone problems.

Earlier, lawmaker Sardar Aslam Bizenjo raised the issue on a point of order, saying that Gwadar and Lasbela districts were badly affected by torrential rains and cyclonic winds. And a large number of people have been displaced by the storm.

“Most of the houses have collapsed and the money allocated by provincial government is not sufficient to make up for the losses,” he said and proposed that all government employees in Grade 8 and above allocate their one day salary for the affected people. He also called upon the government to announce a relief package for the affected region.

Taking part in the debate, lawmaker Mir Zahoor Bulaedai said 50 per cent of houses in Gwadar have been swept away and 50 fishing vessels have been destroyed in high tides.  “Boats were the only source of income for the local fishermen community. The government should announce at least a one-billion rupees package for the people affected by the cyclone,” he said.

Provincial Minister for Industries Syed Ehsan Shah said, “The government does not have accurate figures of the losses.” He added that rehabilitation work would be started after proper assessment of losses.

“The provincial government does not have enough resources to deal with this calamity. Therefore, the Centre and other provincial governments should come forward to help us in this hour of need,” he said.

Other legislators, including Zamurak Khan Achakzai, Agha Irfan, Maulana Wasey and Shah Nawaz Marri, also expressed grief and sorrow over the ravages of Cyclone Phet in the coastal areas of Balochistan. They called for immediate measures for rehabilitation and reconstruction there.

Speaking on a point of order, lawmaker Sardar Aslam Bizenjo said that a company, headed by a retired army brigadier, had taken Rs100 million from the previous government and after a few days the company was declared bankrupt. He demanded an inquiry into the matter.

Two bills were also tabled in the House. Minister Habibur-Rehman Muhammad Hassani tabled an amendment to the Quetta Water and Sanitation Authority Act, 2004. And provincial Education Minister Tahir Mahmood introduced the Lasbela University of Agriculture, Water and Marine Sciences Act, 2010.

Speaker Aslam Bhootani adjourned the session till June 9.

Published in the Express Tribune, June 8th, 2010.


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