The greater scale of devastation in Sindh has managed to eclipse the miseries of flood survivors in Balochistan as lawmakers failed to draw attention to their plight and the government has neglected to minister to the needs of hundreds and thousands of Baloch in need of immediate assistance.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) mandated to provide relief to its calamity-hit countrymen has sent relief items worth Rs2 million only for 80,000 flood-affected people in 17 districts of Balochistan, according to an official report. Only 50 bags of flour have been dispatched so far to people impacted by the floods, stated the report, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune.
Over 7,500 homes have been destroyed in the recent floods. Over 1, 870 villages were affected by the monsoon which resulted in the death of 30 people and left 450 injured in the province. Over 34,400 people were affected in Naseerabad, where more than 2, 150 houses were damaged in the floods. Twenty cartons of biscuits were dispatched to Quetta, where over 1,600 people have been affected by the monsoon in three union councils of the district.
Ten cartons of salt were dispatched to Khuzdar district where over 412 acres of crops have been damaged in 71 villages and 208 houses have been washed away by heavy rains. Thirty bags of pulses were sent to people in Kalat and Loralai, where more than 2,300 houses were damaged and more than 10 people died. To help flood-affected people in Kalat, Khuzdar, Quetta and Harnai, 45 sugar bags were dispatched.
Essential items distributed amongst 60,000 flood survivors in remote areas include 90 food packets, 45 bags of red beans, 692 bags of dates, 430 cooking oil bottles, 600 kitchen sets, 375 rice bags, 1,335 tents, 1,200 jerrycans and 4,850 mineral water bottles.
The government has yet to establish a single relief camp in Balochistan. “With limited resources, we don’t have the capacity to cope with natural calamities,” Chairman NDMA Dr Zafar Qadir told The Express Tribune.
“The only way to deal with a disaster of this magnitude is the establishment of the Disaster Response Force.” This force would have been set up in light of existing laws but for paucity of funds, Qadir explained.
Senator Shahid Hussain Bugti from Balochistan said the government was requested to provide relief to flood survivors in Balochistan as well.
“The centre will dispatch relief goods to Quetta as soon as we cope with the situation in Sindh,” Bugti said, quoting officials associated with rehabilitation of flood victims.
Senator Abdul Rahim Mandokhail of Pakistan Milli Awami Party was more forthcoming, “Only 50 flour bags for thousands of people! Is it not an injustice with the people of Balochistan?” he questioned.
He also criticised the government for its ‘discriminatory policy’ and said it had failed to provide relief goods to victims of flash floods which destroyed 400,000 houses in Rojhan Jamali and Dera Allahyar.
Lawmakers totally focused on the 8.2 million people homeless in Sindh, did not lobby for the 80,000 flood-affected people of Balochistan during the last Senate session.
Despite reminders by NDMA officials that it could not send out a single team to help out people in Balochistan, lawmakers ignored the Baloch. “We kept our focus on Sindh because we have limited resources,” said Brig (retd) Sajjad head of NDMA Operation Cell.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 22nd, 2011.