The monsoon floods that devastated Southern Punjab are long gone and as the bitter cold weather starts settling in across the country, all focus has turned towards the rehabilitation process but it is not as speedy as victims would have hoped.
According to data collected by The Express Tribune from the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), more than 60,000 houses were destroyed by the floods - 86 per cent of these were mud houses, whereas the remaining 14 per cent were baked brick houses. Furthermore, in total 158 large animals and 494 small animals perished in the floods and about 430,000 acres of crops were damaged by the floods.
The data which is a part of the survey carried out by the PDMA to estimate total losses puts the damages to houses at more than Rs 7 billion. The heaviest losses to property were seen in Rajanpur where more than 10,000 houses were damaged; followed by Rojhan with more than 9,200 houses damaged; and in Jampur more than 8,500 houses were damaged by the floods.
However, despite the survey’s completion, flood affectees have not received any funds yet. Saeed, who is currently living in a tent with his family, while talking to The Express Tribune inquired as to what the government was waiting for to disburse financial assistance.
“They already completed the survey, now they should give us the money so we can start building our houses. No one wants to sit around helplessly in the cold,” Saeed lamented. Similarly, Salahuddin, who’s living in a tent in Rajanpur, said that they were all desperately waiting for some sort of good news as all that they had was taken away by the flood.
“Winter is upon us and we are still living in tents. We neither have water nor food and drink,” a visibly upset Salahuddin informed, “and sometimes we have to beg for fresh clothes.” As per sources privy to the matter, the delay in distribution of funds to victims is due to an ongoing dispute between the federal government and the Punjab government, where the government in the centre has told the province that funds will be distributed jointly. However, as per the sources, the provincial government has not given its assent to such a direction, therefore nothing has been done so far despite availability of data on total losses.
Spokesperson of the PDMA, Punjab, when asked about the delay, replied that now that the survey to estimate damages had been completed, rehabilitation efforts would kick off. “The Punjab government will provide financial assistance of Rs 400,000 for the collapse of a concrete house and Rs 200,000 for a mud house. We will also give Rs 200,000 for partial damage to brick houses and Rs 50,000 for partial damage to mud houses. Amounts will also be disbursed for loss of livestock and farmland,” the spokesperson told The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2022.
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