SHANGLA / CHITRAL / PESHAWAR: The government and relief agencies have decided to evacuate affected populations in Chitral and Shangla to schools in nearby areas if heavy rain and snowfall continues.
This was announced by Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) Spokesperson Latifur Rehman in an interview with The Express Tribune.
“The schools in these areas will soon be closed for winter holidays,” he said. “We plan to shift people to the schools to protect them from the cold and rain.”
According to Rehman, the schools will serve as relief camps and centres where PDMA and the provincial government will provide food and other items. Rehman added the district governments will provide details regarding the affected populations and their requirements.
“The affectees will remain at these schools till the weather stablises,” he said.
According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) rain in the quake-hit areas will continue on Tuesday night. The maximum temperature recorded in Chitral is 15 degrees Celcius while the Met department does not have an observatory in Shangla.
Cycle of misery
Heavy rain and snowfall in Shangla has added to the misery of the affected population.
According to residents, no proper relief packages or compensation have been provided by the government. A majority of families fear whatever is left of their houses will be destroyed by the weather.
“Our children are suffering from fever and flu following the cold wave,” he said.
As per data, over 4,000 houses have been destroyed in the Chakesar, Khattak Sar, Ambela and other areas of the district.
Waiting for the verdict
At least 18 national and international NGOs are waiting to obtain their NoCs to provide assistance.
According to documents available with The Express Tribune, the provincial government has issued NOCs to six NGOs while 18 NGOs have yet to be issued the certificates. PDMA spokesperson Latifur Rehman said the NGOs have yet to be cleared by the security agencies.
A large number of people travelling on Lowari Tunnel voiced dissatisfaction with construction teams for refusing to let them pass through.
An insider told The Express Tribune, passenger vans en route to Chitral were stopped at Lowari Top Tuesday morning due to snowfall and risks of landslides. A majority of the people made their way to Lowari Tunnel and asked construction teams to allow them to pass through the area. “They refused, saying the route is for emergencies only,” he said.
“The district administration’s claims that Lowari Top is open are incorrect,” a passenger travelling on the route said. “A proper schedule needs to be established.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 4th, 2015.