As the mercury drops in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa following a fresh spell of rain and snowfall, the government has yet to access 10% to 15% quake-affected areas.
This was said by K-P Government Spokesperson and Special Assistant to CM Mushtaq Ghani at a news conference at the Civil Secretariat on Tuesday. Ghani briefed the media about progress made in relief and rehabilitation activities across the province.
“We have not been able to access 10% to 15% of these areas,” he said. The statistics were provided to Ghani by Wajid Ali, an assistant director at Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA).
However, neither Ghani nor Ali were able to provide details on the exact number of houses which the government has been unable to access. “Most of these areas are situated along narrow passes and have few houses,” he said. “However, we are doing our best to access every area. Residents are also reaching out to us and have been provided relief goods.”
Ghani also shed light on the role of local government representatives in relief and rehabilitation efforts.
When asked why the offices of DCs were used as central points for relief work, the K-P government spokesperson said the local government system is still in its nascent stages. “Representatives are still receiving training,” he said. “We must remember the commissioner system is already in place.”
Nevertheless, Ghani pointed out local government representatives have a duty to help the affected population. “They are working and pointing out areas where relief goods can be transported.”
The K-P government spokesperson said the rugged topography has made it difficult to carry out operations in certain areas.
“However, the government has responded to this catastrophe in an effective manner,” he said. “With time, its capacity to deal with the situation has also improved.”
Speaking about efforts to assess the level of damage to public buildings and plans to conduct a survey in this regard, Ghani said the government is collecting data.
“At least 495 schools have been destroyed,” he said. “The government has provided large tents to the administration of these schools so students can continue to study.”
Ghani said a building at University of Swat has been affected by the devastating earthquake and no classes are being held on the premises.
“Similarly, a mosque in Hazara University has been destroyed,” he said.
According to Ghani, 193 families have been provided cheques. “Around 115 people who were wounded have received compensation,” he added.
Citing data provided by PDMA, Ghani said 42,722 houses were damaged. “At least 398 owners have been compensated by the federal and K-P governments,” he said.
Ghani said an MI-17 helicopter is still being used for relief operation while the Pakistan Army and teams from National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) Kashmir are also conducting relief work.
Ghani said foreign NGOs are working in Chitral, Shangla, Dir and Torghar while three medical teams from Punjab are catering to the needs of people in Malakand.
According to the spokesperson, 19,192 tents, 27,667 blankets, 1,750 floor-mats, 8,700 food packets, 1,000 flour bags, 11,000 tarpaulins and 11 power generators have been distributed.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 4th, 2015.