Thousands remain stranded in the lower districts of Sindh where rains have triggered devastating floods, claiming more than 30 lives and displacing around one million people. However, district governments of the affected areas are yet to utilise the budget allocated for relief and rescue operations.
Official sources told The Express Tribune that each district had earmarked a two per cent budget of its total allocation to cope with disasters and relief activities.
However, due to the controversy surrounding the local government and commissionerate system the budget has been seized. Officials said that a majority of the breaches which occurred in the left bank outfall drains are still unplugged.
However, officials of the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) claimed that funds will soon be released and that the chief minister has been requested for an additional budget to carry out rescue operations. “The chief minister has directed the finance department to release the amount without any delay,” PDMA Director (Operation) Sajjad Hyder Shah told The Express Tribune.
Shah said: “As many as 700,000 people have been affected by the floods caused by recent rains in six districts of Sindh,” adding that Badin is the worst affected district, where more than half the local population has been displaced.
Shah added that out of the six affected districts, Tharparkar is cut off and there has been no contact with the district administration due to a failure in the communication system of the region.
“Soldiers of the army and navy are relentlessly shifting people from dangerous places to safer areas through boats and helicopters,” Chief administrator of Badin district Kazim Jatoi said, adding that makeshift relief camps had been set up in 150 schools.
According to an initial assessment conducted by the PDMA, rain has affected more than one million people in Mirpurkhas, Tharparkar, Badin, Umerkot, Tando Allahyar, and Tando Muhammad Khan.
Speaker National Assembly Dr Fahmida Mirza, who belongs to Badin, has expressed her reservation over the performance of the national and provincial disaster management authorities. Talking to the media she said, “There seems to be no role of disaster management authorities in rescuing people and providing them relief in rain-hit areas. An inquiry will be initiated against the concerned officials,” she said.
However, Shah said that the PDMA has mobilised machinery and other equipment to rescue the victims and provided them tents, de-watering pumps, water purification units and ration. “We have made around 150 camps to accommodate 50,000 people” he said.
The country’s largest charity, the Edhi Foundation, called for a comprehensive relief effort to help those at risk. “We are providing food and necessary items to the people for survival, but more people and organisations will have to participate,” Edhi Foundation’s Anwer Kazmi told reporters.
WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM AFP
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2011.