Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah has said that more than one million people have been affected by the recent flood in six districts of the province.
Speaking to reporters at the Sukkur airport, Shah said that 1.1 million people had fallen victim to the rain havoc in interior Sindh. “We will not rest until all of them are back in their own homes,” he said.
Sindh, which was one of the worst-affected provinces in last year’s flooding, is still trying to rehabilitate flood survivors. According to the provincial disaster management authority, 7.2 million people were affected in the 2010 floods and, as of June 2011, 1.8 million people were living in relief camps.
(Read: Flood devastation)
Shah said that flood survivors had been accommodated in schools and they will be given Watan Cards soon.
Meanwhile, National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza has said that 600 millimetres of rainfall in Badin has affected around 90% of the 1.8 million people of Badin.
Speaking at a news conference in Badin, Mirza said Badin had received a historic cloudburst. “The rain turned out to be more than double the amount we had anticipated,” she said. “More than 80% of the homes in villages and 40% in urban areas of Badin have caved in, while the district has lost 80% of its crops.”
Appealing for urgent help of national and international NGOs, she said more than 200 relief camps in Badin are accommodating around 50,000 rain-affected people.
“It has been a week since the rains but we are yet to see effective rescue or relief work by the national and provincial disaster management authorities,” she said.
She also cited an outbreak of various diseases as people are forced to drink unsafe water and are living in squalid conditions in camps. “Soon, we will be dealing with a health crisis if we fail to mobilise medical teams immediately.”
The provincial government might divert uplift funds for the relief and rehabilitation of those affected by the recent heavy downpour, said the chief minister while talking to reporters at an Iftar hosted by Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon at Golf Club later.
He said that unprecedented rains have devastated six districts of Badin, Tando Mohammed Khan, Tando Allahyar, Mirpurkhas, Umerkot and Thar.
The Sindh government has declared Badin, Tando Muhammad Khan and Mirpurkhas calamity-hit areas following fresh floods in the province.
With the allocation of Rs161 billion, the provincial government has already declared 2011 as the year of development, added Shah. “We diverted the development funds for flood-affected areas last year, given the intensity of the loss. This year, the funds will be diverted for the rain-hit areas,” he said.
Shah said that this year significant arrangements have been made to prevent floods. Regarding development work on dykes, he said that embankments and vulnerable points have also been strengthened. “People are creating hype about the floods because there is no such prediction. If there is, the government can control it,” Shah said.
Rescue operations are being conducted but workers are facing problems in inundated villages due to absence of a road network. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has ordered the use of helicopters to help with the effort.
Recent rains have caused flooding and destruction of infrastructure and crops in 24 out of 30 union councils in Mirpurkhas. Around 120 relief camps have been set up in the region for 18,000 people.
Six union councils of Mithi District have also been inundated and all schools across the district have been converted into relief camps to shelter the victims.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had earlier said over 200,000 people have been affected in flood-hit areas in interior Sindh.
This year, the flow of water will be less compared to last year, Shah said while quoting experts.
(WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY Z ALI IN BADIN)
Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2011.
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