ABBOTABAD: Federal lawmaker Mehtab Ahmed Khan claimed on Monday that the Earthquake Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Authority had abandoned work on earthquake projects in the Hazara division.
Both the Provincial Earthquate Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Authority and the National Engineering Services Pakistan, the main consultant, have allegedly been asked to pack up their offices.
Khan, who is affiliated with the Pakistan Muslim League –Nawaz, made these claims during a hurriedly called press conference on Monday. Flanked by lawmaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi, MPAs Inyatullah Khan Jadoon, Barrister Javed Abbasi and Aurangzeb Nulhota, Khan presented a gloomy picture of the Hazara division and asked Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to reverse the decision of abandoning the ongoing schemes and projects which were mostly foreign funded.
More than 1,000 schools, infrastructure including offices, health units, roads, bridges and water supply schemes were completely damaged in the five districts of Hazara including Kohistan, Battagram, Mansehra, Besham and Abbottabad during the 2005 earthquake. At least 30 per cent infrastructure was rebuilt during the past five years and work on the remaining projects was in progress when Kohistan, Battagram, Alai, Mansehra and other areas were damaged by the flood.
Other than hundreds dead and thousands homeless, at least 90 bridges, 94 government buildings and a big portion of roads and water supply schemes have been damaged.
It will take a long time, Khan said, to restart the relief and reconstruction work in the flood-affected areas. Till then, the schemes and projects on which 30 to 70 per cent work has been completed at the cost of more than 24 billion should be carried on otherwise all the resources spent would be wasted.
Khan said that the country is passing through hard times but it will be unfair if infrastructure which was badly damaged in one of the worst ever earthquakes is abandoned and funds shifted to other parts of the country. This will only create another source of unrest among people of a particular area, he cautioned.
He advised the government raise funds for the flood affected areas separately and also include the flood affected areas of Hazara in the new schemes and projects. Khan also demanded that the National Disaster Management Authority and the NHA make efforts to restore the communication links in Kohistan and other parts of the Hazara division so relief and rescue work can be stepped up.
He called upon the provincial and federal governments to step up their response which he alleged is too slow.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2010.
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