The rain-battered areas of Khairpur suffered another torrential downpour on Tuesday. The rain added to the three to four feet of water that has already accumulated in the area and to the woes of the thousands of the displaced people marooned in the small patches of dry land.
Nara, Faiz Ganj and Thari Mir Wah have borne the brunt of the storms while some parts of the Kingri and Gambat talukas are also affected. Villages are submerged and people have fled their homes in favour of higher ground and sand dunes. A week has passed since the rains first began and the district administration has done little other than to pitch a few hundred tents.
The army has been summoned to Faiz Ganj while communication links to several areas have been cut off. The water level in the Indus River is rising and has already inundated eight villages. Meanwhile, the road connecting Ubauro and Kashmore has been blocked by a spillover.
The administration has set up relief camps in government schools, but the people are loathe to move in to them because they don’t have space for their livestock and enough bathrooms. At one or two places in Faiz Ganj and Thari Mir Wah, however, some people have moved into relief camps, but the resources are limited to a roof over their heads and they are starving. Reports coming in from these areas suggest that the district government has only reached places are close to the cities and towns where it has distributed food and tents. People in far-flung areas have yet to receive aid.
Some of the villages, however, are still safe from rain water, because they are on comparatively higher ground and the villagers are making an effort to help each other. Some people complain that the district government and some NGOs are only helping out for publicity. Nara taluka Mukhtiarkar Iqbal Ahmed Jandan told The Express Tribune that tents and dry rations are being distributed and relief camps are being set up but people do not want to move in. They are reluctant because they do not want to bring all their cattle to the relief camps as there is no arrangement for their fodder. Another reason is their need to protect their women who observe purdah.
Jandan said that the rainwater is being drained, but hill torrents are constantly pouring more water down to the Pharyaro, Sorah and Choondko areas. Bulldozers have been brought in to construct ring bunds to stem these torrents and keep them from sweeping the villages. According to him, some NGOs including Red Crescent are helping the district administration with their relief efforts. Pumps are running around the clock and hopefully the water will be drained shortly, said the mukhtiarkar.
According to DCO Abbas Baloch, over one million acres of farmland have been destroyed while several feet of floodwater has accumulated in Umerkot and Kot Diji.
The stagnant water has bred viruses and bacteria, triggering several epidemic diseases. The people are suffering from malaria and gastroenteritis while some snake bite cases have also been reported.
The low-lying areas of Mirpurkhas are submerged including the railway subway bridge and the power supply has also been cut off in many areas. A number of families have migrated while thousands are still waiting for help.
with additional input from APP
Published in The Express Tribune, September 7th, 2011.