Dealing with drought: Free wheat in Thar goes to distributors' favourites

Rabbani found 300 bags of medicines mixed with mud meant for affected persons

Our Correspondent November 26, 2014

KARACHI: Most of the free wheat meant for the drought-affected residents of Tharparkar ends up with the distributors' favourites. Mineral water and medicines end up being dumped until they expire.

This is how Mithi's senior civil judge, Mian Fayyaz Rabbani, describes the Sindh's government's relief efforts. Rabbani has been appointed as the relief commissioner by the Sindh High Court to monitor the government's efforts.

Tharparkar's district administration has not taken any steps to face this critical situation, he said, adding that the authorities play favourites. He gave the example of Diplo where there was misappropriation in the distribution of wheat and most of it was distributed to the dealers' favourite persons without verifying fake or double names.

Thousands of such complaints have been received and the issue was referred to the Tharparkar deputy commissioner, said Rabbani. Thousands of cartons of mineral water provided by the government were dumped in the warehouse of Mithi district headquarters. Most of them had expired by the time the authorities learned they were not distributed among the residents, he added.

Rabbani also saw expired medicines in the hospitals. He found 300 bags of medicines mixed with mud that were kept aside to be distributed among the affected persons. He claimed that even the reverse-osmosis plants are being installed on the basis of favouritism.

The posts of specialist doctors in government hospitals are still lying vacant and that is one of the leading causes of deaths particularly in the far-flung rural areas, where transportation is not available. There are 121 doctors working in Civil Hospital, Mithi, three taluka hospitals, two rural health centres and other basic health units.

The judge pointed out that the Tharparkar district government did not cooperate when they were collecting the number of children who had died.

'426 child deaths'

The judge reported that 426 children died, including 249 of ages five and under, and 177 above five years old, this year. Of these, 329 deaths took place in Civil Hospital, Mithi, 17 at Diplo taluka hospital, 21 at Nangarparkar taluka hospital, 53 at Chachro taluka hospital and six at Islamkot rural health centre. The number of affected families is nearly 253,580.

According to Tharparkar district health officer, the deaths that took place since January were due to low birth weight, pre-term births, birth asphyxia or respiratory distress syndrome, neonatal sepsis and severe pneumonia.

The surgeon of Civil hospital reported on November 11 that 319 deaths occurred between January and October this year.

The district and sessions judge, Umerkot, Suresh Kumar, also reported that the negligence of the Sindh and federal governments led to this situation in Thar. The government failed to fill the vacant posts of doctors, it supplied limited wheat to the residents of Umerkot and did not provide any grant and compensation to the affected families, he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 27th, 2014.


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