Residents leave as Thatta villages are submerged in rainwater

Health department moves five mobile health units to affected villages


Z Ali/sameer Mandhro August 18, 2019
A Basic Health Unit in Mirpur Sakro taluka remains submerged in water days after the recent spell of monsoon rains. Locals from the nearby village have started migrating. PHOTOS: COURTESY SALEEM LAKHO

HYDERABAD/ KARACHI: Hundreds of villages of the coastal belt in Thatta district remain submerged under rainwater, forcing residents to move to safer places. No relief and rehabilitation efforts have been started as yet.

The most badly affected union councils (UCs) of Mirpur Sakro Taluka include Kakrand, Dhubo, Khudhan, Choabandhi, Khari Seer, Karampur and Sukhpur while dozens of villages of Ghorabari have also been badly affected by the recent heavy downpour in the coastal belt. Besides, villages near Keti Bundar and Buharo cities are reportdely under knee-deep water.

Most of the schools and Basic Health Units (BHUs) remain submerged under rainwater after a week of the second monsoon spell that swamped most parts of southern belt of Sindh province.

Displaced due to the rainwater, some of the families from Sakro have moved to suburbs of Karachi city, including Gaddap and Malir areas.

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"There is no other way but to move to a safe place," said Waheed Rind, a social activist of Hasil Rind village. "There is no governance in rural areas," he alleged, adding that the district administration has not bothered to provide any kind of relief to the families now living on roadsides.

Rind said that there was an acute food shortage in these areas. "People help each other so they can survive," he added. There is no medical help in case of emergency. The hospitals are either closed or there is no paramedical staff.

Sharing details of the floods, Rind said that the majority of villages was affected due to deluge and saline water channels which occurred at various points. He said that the villages located near the drains swamped within a few hours of rains. "It's an emergency but the administration doesn't look at the poor." He said that thousands of people might move to urban areas, including Karachi, if appropriate measures are not taken timely for most affected families.

"We don't have food," complained a woman. "Our villages have been completely inundated for the last 15 days," she added. "No one comes or offers any help. Our children don't have enough food. There is no potable water."

Medical help

There are 22 BHUs, six Rural Health Centres, five taluka hospitals and one District Headquarter Hospital in Thatta district. Health department officials said that most of the health facilities are run either by the People's Primary Healthcare Initiative (PPHI) Sindh or have been outsourced to non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

"Three out of five BHUs in Sakro taluka were under rainwater," confirmed Director General for Health Dr Masood Ahmed Solangi. "The dewatering process has already been started," he added.

The health department's five mobile units will be moved to most affected villages along the coastal belt today (Sunday). "We will provide medical help to all persons at their doorsteps," the DG Health said.

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Public representatives

Angry with the public representatives from the area, the villagers said that a few of them, including Sindh Assembly MPA Awais Bijar Khan Jokhio, visited the area. "He never looked back again," said a villager. He said that the Sindh government had announced relief to most affected areas. "Even the deputy commissioner did not bother to visit us," he said.

Jokhio was approached for comments but was unavailable for sharing the situation in his constituency.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) has deplored the indifference of the Sindh government to the people's plight. "The condition is so grave that 350 villages in Ghora Bari, Garho, Buharo and Keti Bunder are under water and people are migrating from there," claimed PTI Sindh Chapter President Haleem Adil Sheikh in a statement on Saturday.

Thatta received around 150 millimetre rain on August 10. Sheikh said the saline water channels overflowed and submerged the villages after the rain while roads connecting to the villages, towns and Thatta city were also disconnected.

He bemoaned that the provincial government of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has failed to carry out the relief work for the tens of thousands rain affected people. "When we visited Thatta on Friday we came across the abandoned villages and poultry farms inhabited by the people."

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The PTI leader referred to the statement of Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah in which he claimed that the funds for the relief work have been released and questioned why no work on ground is visible.

PTI MNA Nuzhat Pathan at a press conference in Thatta on Saturday said that the coastal areas of Thatta have faced one disaster situation after another but the Sindh government has still not come up with a disaster management plan.

Pathan said she visited many villages which have been flooded by the overflowing saline water channels. "The whole life has ground to a halt in the submerged villages." The MNA said she will approach the federal government for a special package for the coastal district's development.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2019.

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