People in parts of Badin and Tharparkar have been ordered to evacuate in light of Met department forecasts of heavy rain for the next three days. The Sindh government has also demanded Rs10 billion from the federal government for relief and rescue operations.
Sindh Rehabilitation Minister Haji Muzaffar Shajra told The Express Tribune that Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah has approved the demand. “The amount includes the share the federal government has to release for Watan Cards,” he said.
The minister went on to explain that a large amount of water is flowing downstream from Sanghar, Mirpurkhas and Nawabshah via the Left Bank Outfall Drain (LBOD) and could cause further damage in the Badin and Tharparkar districts.
“Some towns such as Khoski, Tando Bhago, Kaloi, and Malkani Sharif are in danger. We have issued warnings to the people to evacuate the towns,” he said. Most of the people will be shifted to Thatta and Makli where tent villages will be set up with the help of non-governmental organisations. “People are not willing to leave their houses. We have requested the army and Rangers to help the local administration evacuate the people to safer places.”
Shajra added that the government has established 1,974 relief camps, replete with basic facilities, in all of Sindh’s districts. “We have shifted 279,352 people to relief camps from areas that had been inundated.”
As for damages, the minister said that a total of 112 people died in the heavy rains of which 31 were children and 55 women. In Sindh, a total of 5.33 million people have been affected, 1,190,454 houses have been damaged, 8,364 cattle have perished – of which 2,849 are in Badin alone. A total of 1.5 million acres of crops have been damaged. He said that 81 talukas, 544 union councils and 29,061 villages have been affected.
Official sources said that, despite repeated assurances, the federal government has yet to release the two billion rupees the prime minister promised. Reports from rain-affected areas say that the government has not yet plugged the main breaches that occurred in the LBOD in the first spell of the rain on August 9.
“Over six breaches spread over 25 to 40 feet are the main cause of flooding,” said Laar Humanitarian and Development Programme’s Asghar Leghari. “It can also damage Badin town if the rain continues for three to four days more.”
Leghari said that they have arranged 100 tents, which would be set up in tent villages where rain victims would be shifted. “Forty people can easily be accommodated in a tent in which we will provide a kitchen and health and hygiene facilities.”
Meanwhile, the latest meteorological reports suggest that the monsoons now lie over southeast Sindh and the adjoining areas of Rajasthan, India. Under the influence of this strong weather system, more widespread thundershowers accompanied with strong, gusty winds are expected to hit Badin, Mirpurkhas, Thar, Umarkot, Thatta, Hyderabad, Nawabshah, Dadu and Larkana districts along Karachi and east Balochistan in the next three days.
The rehabilitation department estimates the total amount spent on flood relief to be Rs0.6 billion, along with 80,000 tents and over 200,000 ration bags. Each bag contains food for seven people. Sindh Chief Secretary Raja Muhammad Abbas reviewed the report and asked departments and institutions taking on relief operations to step up their game and be more efficient.
He asked the DCOs to work with the rehabilitation, local government and health departments and others. The chief secretary felt that the supply of basic necessities and health facilities was adequate and to protect the people from diseases such as diarrhoea and dengue fever.
Edhi ‘begging drive’
Abdul Sattar Edhi launched a ‘begging drive’ in Hyderabad on Monday but is thoroughly disillusioned with the response he received from the landlords, feudals and business community.
“These people have been plundering the country for 65 years without paying the due Zakat,” he told the media during his visit to Hyderabad Press Club.
The Edhi Foundation collected Rs1.3 million from Karachi while Edhi himself crouched on a roadside in Gari Khata, Hyderabad, to collect over Rs400,000.
Edhi estimated that over six million people have been affected by rains and his charity organisations have spent Rs50 million on relief and rescue work.
With additional reporting from Z Ali
Published in The Express Tribune, September 13th, 2011.