SUKKUR: First they were reluctant to move to relief camps and now they know why. The relief camps set up by the government for the residents of riverine areas have failed to provide sufficient facilities.
During a visit to a relief camp, established in Tameer-i-Nau High School, Sukkur, The Express Tribune learnt that people have not received proper food. Sadori Mirani, Ghulam Hussain Mirani, Khawand Buksh Mirani and several others present at the camps said that the management has not distributed enough food for all family members.
“Our homes have been flooded so we have taken shelter here but there is no one to take care of us,” said Sadori, as he showed a plate of daal and dough for four rotis that he received for his family of six.
A young widow, Sukhan, had similar woes. “I am a widow with five children, who are hungry because they haven’t eaten proper food in two days,” she complained while cradling her one-year-old son in her arms.
Ghous Buksh Mirani blamed the management for the food shortage. “The camp management is passing on the food to their relatives, even though it is meant for us,” he said. On the other hand, the camp management brushed aside the allegations and said that “we are providing ample food but they are the ones passing it on to their relatives, who come to visit them”.
Fearless residents of the protective bund
The residents of the protective bund near Ali Wahan have nothing to fear and have completely refused to relocate to the relief camps.
The 75-year-old Allah Divayo Chadhar is not perturbed by the floods rushing down from the Punjab because the water near his house is still a little far.
“Come here I will show you, the water is still far away and it will not harm us,” he said, gesturing towards the river in sight.
Chadhar has seen worse floods in the past and believes that this one is nothing in comparison. “Everyone loves their family and it is in our interest to stay here along with our cattle head,” he said, adding that the government is providing nothing in the “so-called relief camps”.
The young boys swimming in the river could not believe that someone can actually be afraid of the water. Ten-year-old Babu Jagirani called out to me and before I could say anything, he jumped off a 12-foot-high embankment. A few seconds later, he emerged with a huge grin on his face, “Chacha, nothing happens! You can also jump in, I will take care of you,” he shouted.
An elderly woman, Mai Shamul, who was scrubbing utensils in the river water, called out, “our children are swimmers by birth so they are fearless”. I asked her when she will move to the relief camp but she replied with a firm no.
“We will not go to the camp and if the situation becomes worse, we will take shelter at the embankment,” she added.
Meanwhile, a row of at least 200 houses have been flooded at Katcha Bunder and the occupants have moved to a relief camp, established in a nearby school. Around 259 families, totalling 1,994 people, have shifted to the camp, while thousands of other residents of this area are still living in their houses.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2010.