Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif admitted on Monday the devastation caused by the recent rains and floods across the country was so vast, the government would not be able reach out to each and every affected home, despite the best efforts to do so.
The prime minister visited the flooded areas of the Kambar-Shahdadkot district in the Larkana division, accompanied by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah.
“[There has been] unimaginable destruction which we have never seen before,” Shehbaz said. “This is a very difficult time for entire country. Even if we want, we won’t be able to reach out to each affected home,” he added.
Shahbaz said that the magnitude of the devastation caused by the rain-triggered floods across the country was not anticipated. He noted with concern that not only the people had become homeless and many lives were lost, the people had also been deprived of their livelihood.
“Entire cultivated land has gone under water,” the prime minister said. “All the people with whom I spoke [in Kambar] told me that their sari [paddy] crop has been completely destroyed,” he added.
Bilawal and Shah complained that the promised tents had not been supplied to Sindh through the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). Shehbaz said he would immediately take up the issue with the National Flood Relief Coordination Committee (NFRCC).
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The prime minister said that the government had placed orders for 700,000 tents which would be delivered within a month. Besides, he added, the relief items, including tents, were being sent by the friendly countries.
Shehbaz mentioned that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had announced $50 million in aid and the relief goods were being delivered to Pakistan every day through flights landing at Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi airports.
Similarly, he added, Turkey had also established an air bridge, sending daily flights of relief goods. Four trains carrying relief items would also reach Pakistan soon. He thanked other countries like the US, China, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iran, for providing aid.
Shehbaz also appreciated the army, navy and the air force for their rescue, relief and health services to the affected people. The prime minister observed that tents and mosquito nets were highly needed in Sindh.
The prime minister said that Pakistan had suffered a lot because of the climate change. He asked the global community to work in concert to deal with the daunting challenge posed by the global warming.
During a briefing, the prime minister asked the irrigation officers as how long would it take to dry the flooded lands. The officers replied that it would not happen before November, suggesting that the sowing of Rabi crops would become very difficult, if not impossible.
The officers also requested the prime minister to order immediate repair of Water and Power Development Authority’s (Wapda) drainage project in Sindh. Shehbaz assured that he would ask the federal water resources minister to engage with the provincial irrigation authorities.
During the briefing, the prime minister was informed that Kambar-Shahdakot was inundated in water from six sources – rainfall and flows from Khuzdar, Jhal Magsi, Bolan drain, Mola drain and Khirthar range. The same is the case with Dadu and Jamshoro districts, they said.
During the briefing, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) provincial leader Nadir Magsi and Chief Minister Shah argued over draining out the floodwater from Kambar. The arguments forced PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to intervene.
“There is a way to drain the water out but we need to be on the same page,” Magsi told the chief minister. “We are ready to drown ourselves but tell us how,” Shah quipped. “That is not the point. We all have been drowned. But we ought to minimise the losses,” Magsi said.
The chief minister asked Magsi to suggest the way of for the water from Kambar-Shahdadkot district. Magsi suggested that Dhamrah channel should be breached. But Shah pointed out that the people of Mehar taluka of Dadu district oppose this idea because they will be flooded.
Bilawal stopped the argument by suggesting the chief minister and Magsi to hold a meeting to sort out this contentious issue.
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