DG KHAN/ KARAK/ CHITRAL/ RAHIM YAR KHAN/ SUKKUR/ QUETTA/ PESHAWAR/ TANK:
Floods continue to cause havoc as authorities in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa have promised to reconnect the flood-hit district of Chitral with the rest of the country within 15 days.
The assurance was provided to the calamity-hit populace on Thursday during Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s visit to Chitral. He was accompanied by K-P Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak and the provincial cabinet members.
After monitoring the relief efforts in the district, Imran addressed the flood-hit people in Booni. “The K-P government is with the people of Chitral during this difficult time.”
He said the PTI wants a change in the system, which is why the party is focusing on education. “We shall soon establish a university in Chitral. This initiative will provide higher education to the locals on their doorstep.”
Meanwhile, CM Khattak said he would not leave Chitral until relief and rehabilitation operations have been properly started. “The provincial government will reconnect all the cut-off areas with Chitral city and other parts of the country within 15 days.”
Khattak said that for reconstructing the washed away roads, the administration would sign an agreement with the Frontier Works Organisation to avoid corruption in the rehabilitation process. He said Rescue 1122 would be established in Chitral district to ensure timely rescue operations in case of any calamity. “Chitral city, Garam Chashma, Booni, Bamboret and Darosh have been identified as the worst-hit areas.”
The CM said a comprehensive plan for sustainable rehabilitation of the affected areas is under consideration. “There is no shortage of food in the affected areas. As many as 7,000 bags of wheat are available at the provincial reserve centre of Chitral district.”
Talking about the preliminary rehabilitation estimates, he said that restoring the communication infrastructure would cost Rs1 billion, adding that the irrigation department has demanded Rs43.6 million for repairing the water channels.
According to the Pakistan Army, the floods have damaged 197 houses, 123 shops, 27 water supply and sanitation systems, 22 roads and tracks, 15 bridges, four power projects and several other facilities, as well as 36 per cent of the standing crops.
An army spokesman for Chitral relief operations said 400 people, including tourists, have been evacuated from the disconnected areas, adding that 20 tonnes of food and a large quantity of medicines were provided to the affected people.
Malakand General Officer Commanding (GOC) Major General Nadar Khan visited Kalash valley and assured the people that the army would continue the relief operation. He said a nerve centre would be set up for relief work in Kalash valley to assist the people.
Eight people were killed in flood-related incidents across K-P: a man identified only as Khan and another as Asif Ahmed were swept away in Chitral, two boys identified as Mushtaq and Masoodur Rehman in Tank and one Irfan Khan in Karak; a man named Tahir was killed and two others injured when the roof of a building collapsed due to heavy rain in Peshawar.
One hundred houses were washed away by hill torrents in Dera Bugti district on Thursday. “At least seven people have been killed in flood-related incidents since July 19,” said Provincial Disaster Management Authority Director General Tahir Munir Minhas.
According to reports, dozens of houses have been destroyed in Zhob district. Minhas said three children died after the roof of their house in Kohlu collapsed, adding that four people were killed in Shah Noorani in Khuzdar district.
According to the Flood Forecasting Division, water level at the Chashma Barrage is 470,000 cusecs and 460,000 cusecs at the Taunsa Barrage.
A spokesman for the division said floodwater is expected to enter Sindh in the next four days, adding that water level at the Sukkur Barrage has risen from 396,000 cusecs to 450,000 cusecs over two days.
Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has reprimanded Dera Ghazi Khan District Coordination Officer Nadeemur Rehman for the delay in reconstructing an embankment and for not informing him about the gravity of the situation in the flood-hit DG Khan division.
With water discharge at the Guddu Barrage crossing 400,000 cusecs, the irrigation authorities have started strengthening the KK and Old Tori bunds.
On a visit to the Qadirpur loop and Shaink bunds near Ghotki, Pano Aqil Cantonment GOC Muhammad Arif Waraich asked the district administration to move the residents of the riverine areas to relief camps.
However, he was told that the locals had refused to leave their homes because, according to them, the water level is not a threat to them.
In Ghotki, the locals do not want to leave their homes either, fearing that their valuables and livestock will be stolen.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2015.