KARACHI: For nearly two weeks following the downpour which wreaked havoc in parts of Sindh, the media reported the government’s apathy and sluggish reponse to the natural disaster, quoting many flood survivors. But at a meeting organised on Friday at CM House, the provincial government assessed its response, which it feels has been plentiful.
Around 3 million people living in 13,221 villages have been affected by the downpour. At least 239 people have died so far and 359,131 houses have been badly damaged.
In his presentation, Provincial Disaster Management Authority’s director-general, Muhammad Hashim Raza Zaidi, said that deputy commissioners have been asked to run their district emergency operation centres round-the-clock and start using machines to drain water from low-lying areas.
Zaidi said that nearly 8 million livestock has been affected and many crops have also been ruined. Around 15 pumps are being used by the irrigation departments, of which 5 are in Jacobabad Air Base, 4 in Shikarpur and 13 in Sukkur. Around 30 medical camps and 61 camps have been set up in Ghotki, Sukkur, Shikarpur, Jacobabad Kashmore and Qambar-Shahdadkot and 50 veterinary camps have been set up for livestock.
The director general added that 58,352 patients have been treated so far at medical camps. The government has provided 67,252 tents, 117,288 ration bags, 139 dewatering pumps and Rs344 million to affected people. The army has also been taking part in the relief operations in close coordination with the disaster management authority.
Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, who chaired the meeting, asked relief, health and livestock officials to provide relief goods to affected people. He said that the health and livestock departments should establish more camps to prevent an outbreak of disease. He also asked the finance department to release funds to relief department and the disaster management authority so that there is no lapse in relief.
Though the government claims that it has been stepping up and playing its role to alleviate the miseries of flood survivors, the Peoples Accountability Commission on Floods (PACF) disagrees. In a recent report, the commission said that the government and humanitarian agencies have failed to provide quick and adequate relief to the worst-hit areas, which led to more deaths.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2012.