Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has directed the police to arrest the agents who are deducting Rs3,000 on the pretext of 'service charges' from the Rs25,000 payouts being given to each flood affected family under the Benazir Income Support Programme.
"This is unacceptable and uncalled for. I'll not tolerate this to the people living in distress," he said while presiding over a meeting at the DC office on Saturday which was called to assess and review the damages caused by heavy rains besides looking into the relief measures taken by the government.
The meeting was attended by provincial ministers, Syed Sardar Shah, Nasir Shah, Taimur Talpur, Mukesh Chawla, MNAs and MPAs of the area, Commissioner Aijaz Shah, DIG Zulfikar Maher, DC Tahir Memon and others.
At the outset of the meeting, the chief minister was told that they were thankful to the government, which has started giving Rs25,000 payouts to the flood affected people. However, they complained that the BISP officials or agents involved in cash transfer were deducting Rs3,000 from every affectee as 'service charges'.
At this, the chief minister expressed displeasure and directed that the persons making deductions from the cash transfers must be arrested forthwith. "This is surprising that they do not spare even the homeless and displaced people," he said and directed the DIG Mirpurkhas to arrest them and submit a report.
The chief minister, while discussing the issue of restoration of natural waterways, said that a study had been conducted after the floods of 2011 which revealed that a sum of Rs28 billion was required for this purpose. "We are working [on the restoration of old and natural waterways] but donor agencies would be requested for funds," he said and added that Education Minister Syed Sardar Shah has started working on this.
The CM said that his government has ordered procurement of 350,000 tents against a need of one million. "No firm is ready to take orders for immediate delivery of tents; therefore, the brotherly countries like China, Iran and others are being requested for the purpose," he said.
Some of the participants of the meeting complained that the flood-affected people from Mirpurkhas, Tando Allahyar, Badin and Thar have settled on the sand dunes of Umerkot. At this, the CM said, "They are our guests and must be treated respectfully."
Briefing the chief minister, the Mirpurkhas commissioner said that Umerkot has received 570mm of rain, Kunri 644, Samaro 676mm, and Pithoro 337mm. The heavy downpour has destroyed crops on 88,885 acres of land while 60,300 houses have also been damaged.
It was disclosed that over 400,000 people have been displaced. Of them, 4,923 have been shifted to 32 relief camps where food supply and medical aid have been ensured.
CM Shah was told that heavy rains have hit 662 dehs in Mirpurkhas. Some 12 canals developed breaches which were plugged on time. The rain has damaged 605km roads, 83 culverts, and two bridges.
The chief minister told the elected representatives present in the meeting that he has informed Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif that 308mm more than usual rainfall has been recorded in Sindh. In August alone, the province has received 784 per cent more than average rainfall.
CM Shah said that 23 districts and their 101 talukas have been declared "calamity hit" areas. The CM told the prime minister that initial estimates have put the losses at Rs550 billion. As many as 293 people have died while 836 sustained injuries.
According to the chief minister, 1.5 million houses have collapsed, 9,197 cattle perished, crops on 284,5046 acres of land has been submerged, and 570 roads damaged. He added that the repair of Karachi roads alone would require Rs50 billion.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2022.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ