SUKKUR / HYDERABAD: A Honda Civic, a Toyota Corolla and a Mehran drove up and parked in front of the relief camps at the Sukkur Bypass. Fashionably dressed women, about 12 of them, emerged holding cartons of relief goods.
Housewives and their daughters collectively had gathered water and packaged food items: biscuits, chips and slanties.
“We were not satisfied with the ongoing relief efforts so we decided to buy things ourselves,” one of them told Express News.
Mobile cook houses
Relief efforts geared up on Wednesday as Hyderabad braced itself for flooding. Fifty mobile cook houses will be set up in Hyderabad and Jamshoro. The name says it all as these mobile kitchenettes will provide cooked meals to the displaced.
Twenty-five villages in the kachcha areas of Sehwan Sharif, Jamshoro and Kotri are inundated. A total of 40 relief camps have been set up near these areas that are catering to 2,796 people.
Meanwhile, Section 144 was imposed at Kotri Barrage and barbed wire was put up. The Jamshoro Bridge is also closed. Still, thousands of people flocked to see the swelling river as the helpless police looked on.
Lt Cdr Ehsan of the Pakistan Navy said that six large motorboats, 12 small boats and 30 mallahs are available and 14 more motorboats were brought to Hyderabad on a C-130 plane.
Federal Minister for Petroleum Naveed Qamar hired the staff of the irrigation department to fortify his house. His residence, located in Latifabad near Labaik Chowk, was surrounded by a wall of sandbags that looked like Qamar’s own version of a protective embankment.
The work scared other Latifabad residents who wondered if they had something to worry about.
Relief efforts in Sukkur
Several camps have been set up at Minara Road, Ghanta Ghar Chowk and Bunder Camp, where residents have been collecting cash or food donations. They are preparing deghs or cauldrons of food on the spot and then taking it to the people stranded in kachcha areas.
The navy has seven helicopters and the army has 10, which are all being used between Sukkur and Guddu barrages.
According to Federal Minister for Labour Khursheed Shah, 120,000 internally displaced persons have entered Sukkur but unofficial are higher. .
So far the supply of raw materials to Sukkur has been unaffected by the floods. This is mainly because the National Highway and the railway tracks are open for traffic. If the highway is blocked then there will be a shortage of food and ration in the entire upper Sindh region.
Sukkur is the economic hub for that part of Sindh and attracts a large number of traders from Kandhkot, Kashmore and Ghotki during Ramazan. Business this time has, however, gone down by at least 70 per cent.
Saving the cantonment
The biggest cantonment of the country in Pannu Aqil may be submerged if the embankment at Ghotki breaks. If the water level in the River Indus further increases near Ghotki, then the authorities may have to develop a breach at Ali Wahan, near Rohri, and divert water to Sanghar and Thar.
The water pressure at Guddu Barrage has, however, has started to decrease so the government has delayed this action for the moment.
Victims dupe army
A group of people, belonging to the Qadirpur Loop Bund, arrived at the army camp and requested boats to rescue their families. The army obliged but was shocked to find upon reaching the submerged land that these people had only wanted a ride home.
The job of helping other people has not been easy for the volunteers as two of them lost their motorcycles to two thieves. The thieves also targeted a relief camp near the Lohipur bund when they tried to steal a calf. On their way out, however, the calf and one of the thieves died from electrocution and an accomplice was injured and is under treatment in Larkana.
with reporting by Liaquat Leghari and Shabbir Aarbani
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2010.
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