ISLAMABAD: Nearly 100,000 people have been uprooted from their homes by flash floods unleashed by the monsoon rains in Balochistan. But it is, perhaps, not enough for the government to swing into action.
“So far, the government has not established a single relief camp for the people in the flood-hit districts of Jaffarabad and Naseerabad,” said Federal Minister for Science and Technology Mir Changez Khan Jamali.
“The centre has left the flood victims (in Balochistan) at God’s mercy,” he added. The minister said that he had asked Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf for immediate release of funds.
“Around 100,000 people, camped along a canal and National Highway, are desperately waiting for government help after losing their houses to the floods,” Jamali told The Express Tribune.
Meanwhile, Premier Ashraf announced a Rs2 billion relief package for the flood-hit areas of Sindh on Sunday following an aerial visit of the affected region. Of the amount, Rs710 million will be released immediately.
According to an official statement, Rs200 million each from this amount are reserved for Kashmore and Jacobabad districts, Rs100 million each for Sukkur and Mirpur, and Rs70 million for Ghotki district.
The statement added that an additional Rs2 billion package will also be announced in the second phase of relief efforts.
While the premier directed authorities to finalise similar relief packages for flood-hit areas in Punjab and Balochistan, he did not announce any immediate relief for victims in either province.
“Why has he (PM Ashraf) not announced any relief package for Balochistan,” questioned Jamali, adding that the scale of devastation was no less in the province – where over 300,000 houses have been washed away. “This is injustice … not a single camp has been established by the federal government so far,” he added.
While both federal and provincial governments struggle to disburse relief goods in Sindh, Balochistan and south Punjab, the United Nations still awaits a formal request from Islamabad to aid the relief efforts.
“We stand ready to help flood victims,” said Timo Pakkala, UN’s resident coordinator in Pakistan, who visited the flood-hit areas last week.
Authorities dealing with natural disasters, meanwhile, complained that it was difficult for them to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to flood victims in low-lying areas.
“We will welcome UN’s help in this regard,” said Jamali.
Heavy rains expected in north Punjab
In light of Pakistan Meteorological Department’s (PMD) forecast, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) cautioned that the Chenab and Jhelum rivers may flood. The authority advised residents to move to safe locations.
The latest meteorological analysis predicts widespread thunderstorms with heavy to very heavy rainfall over the upper catchments of the Ravi, Chenab and Jhelum rivers, said PMD Director General Arif Mahmood on Sunday. The fresh monsoon spell, which is expected from Monday, will continue for three days (September 17 -20), he added.
The NDMA also advised residents of low-lying areas in southern Punjab and upper Sindh to move to higher grounds since the fresh spell will likely lead to flooding in the catchment areas of River Indus. The authority fears the heavy rains may cause more rural and urban floods in these areas.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2012.