MUZAFFARGARH: Flood victims from all over southern Punjab have begun reconstructing their houses by themselves.
Millions have been rendered homeless by the disastrous floods and many others have lost their lives. An estimated 1,500,000 houses were destroyed and huge numbers of livestock drowned. After the receding of flood water in most of the province’s districts, people have begun to return to their houses.
The government initially announced that it would provide Rs 20,000 each to the flood affected people but the aid has not been provided and people have already been asked to return to their homes. “We can’t just sit and wait for the government aid.
The rain hasn’t stopped and we need a roof over our heads so we are rebuilding,” said Rajanpur resident Noor Muhammad.Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif told flood victims in Adda Basirpur, Muzaffargarh that he had advised the federal government to increase the aid from Rs20,000 to Rs100,000. “I have told Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif to provide the first installment of aid to the people as soon as possible, hopefully before Eid,” he said.
“We hadn’t even received the initial amount of Rs20,000 and now we are hearing promises of Rs100,000.
Why doesn’t the government try handing out even Rs100 per person so that we can believe they are sincere,” said Adda Basirpur resident Jamaluddin.
Local philanthropists are playing a vital role in providing help to the flood victims and the international community is also pitching in with aid.
The Saudi administration has already released large amounts of relief goods for the flood victims.
Rabta Aalmi Islami International regional director Abdulbun Muhammad Ibrahim Ateen said “We are ready to provide as many relief goods as we can before Eid and after it. This is a hard time and we want to do what we can,” he said.
Most flood victims have said that they are trying to reach and rebuild their homes before Eid.
When Sanawan resident Muhammad Ashraf returned to his house it was reduced to rubble and the government has not provided him with any aid to rebuild as yet.
“The floods destroyed our houses and we are rebuilding walls without cement using mud.
Everything is gone and I am rebuilding from scratch. The government aid has not arrived,” Ashraf said.
“We still don’t have much to celebrate, we have lost everything. But I suppose, I am alive, that is something,” said Ashraf.
After waiting for 25 days for the government to help, Ashraf said he had given up and has started reconstructing his home.
“There never was much hope with the government, it was foolish to expect differently. They never remembered I existed before the floods why should they care now?” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2010.