Authorities continue to struggle with the aftermath of the floods in southern Punjab. In several districts people have begun to return to their homes, while in some areas emergency evacuations are still being administered. The situation in relief camps continues to pose challenges for the government as people continue to go without food and have lost most of their livestock.
Taking the long road home:
Officials in southern Punjab say that flood water has begun receding in most districts and people are starting to return to their homes.
Rajanpur district coordination officer (DCO) Capt (retired) Muhammad Usman told reporters that in his district including Jampur and other tehsils flood waters were receding and people had started returning to the villages.
Usman said that according to the district administration 250 people had returned to their homes in Rajanpur and the administration was working to provide them with food and tents.
On the contrary, Jampur residents insist that their villages are still flooded by four to five feet of water which is making it impossible for them to rebuild. “We still have food and medicines in the camp but who will feed us once we return to our homes? The government will forget about us,” said a man.
DG Khan DCO Iftikhar Sahu said that in the Taunsa Shaif tehsil nearly 100 families had returned to their homes and the district administration was providing dry food and tents to the people.
According to officials, 147 camps had been set up for flood victims in DG Khan but their number has come down to 99 after people left for their homes.
Sahu said that water had almost completely receded in Ghazi Ghat and people were returning to their homes.
Ghazi Ghat resident Amna Bibi said that the district administration was forcing them to go back to their homes. “Police officials are snatching our tents and forcing us to go back.
We aren’t doing this voluntarily,” she said.
Maqsooda Bibi said that hundreds of houses in the low lying areas had collapsed and the highway police patrolling office on Multan road was still flooded. “My family of 12 are taking shelter in a school building but we are being forced to go back to a wasteland,” she said.
A Muzaffargarh district administration official said that the areas where flood affected people were returning to their homes included Kot Addu, Sananwan, Daira Din Panah, Baseera and Ehsanpur. According to the official, nearly 80 per cent of the people in Kot Addu had gone back to their houses. He added that over 4,000 families from these tehsils were still living in the relief camps.
Dealing with the devastation:
During flood Rajanpur resident Muhammad Saleem lost his house, his land and his family. “I left my village nearly three weeks ago with my two sons, my daughter and my wife. My sons drowned in the floods and my daughter and wife fell sick. Now I am alone and nothing matters anymore,” he said.
In Sialkot’s Bajwat area, nine villages have lost land connection due to the floods. In nullah Baili, over 2,000 people are stuck amid the waters as the floods caused the collapse of a wooden bridge constructed by the government. The administration has started relief operations to shift the people to safer locations. According to relief workers in Jog, Khan Bawo, Kalyar, Deyawra, Breti, Deyawra Klan and other villages crops and livestock have been lost.
In Daska, 15 villages were submerged including Sambrial areas Bhopala, Dhulam Bulgan, Chodhay Chak, Kamal Pur, Man Pur, Budu ki chema, Sahuwala and other low lying areas were inundated. In Pasroor, several villages were flooded after a dyke broke in Sokan Wind village. Locals started reconstructing the dyke with the help of DCO Sialkot Mujahid Sherdil and DDOR Saifulah Bhatti. According to officials from Qilla Kaler Wala, floods in nullah Deck have led to thousands of acres of land being inundated in Qilla Kaler Wala, Badu Malhi, Kali Suba and Titley Ali.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 30th, 2010.