Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has assured the victims of the October 26 earthquake that they would be rehabilitated before the onset of winter.
Addressing a gathering in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Swat district on Saturday, the premier said his government was aware that the cold weather was at hand; therefore, all relevant departments had been directed to ensure the timely construction of all destroyed and damaged houses.
A massive 7.5-magnitude temblor centred in the Hindu Kush mountain range had left a trail of destruction in Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. According to the National Disaster Management Authority, around 280 people in Pakistan were killed during the quake. The casualties in K-P alone were recorded at 232.
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PM Nawaz arrived in Swat’s Barikot tehsil on Saturday to distribute compensation cheques among the victims. He told the people that the first phase of the relief activities had been completed.
Talking about several development projects in Swat, he announced the construction and widening of the main road from Chakdara town in Lower Dir district to Kalam in Swat. He said the quality of the Chakdara-Kalam Road would match that of a motorway.
The premier also made brief remarks in Pashto, which amused the people. In his remarks, he assured the people that the government was determined to fulfil its responsibilities regarding relief and development in Swat.
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He said the people would no longer have to experience gas and electricity shortages, adding that power load-shedding would be overcome by 2018. “This area would be on the top of the list of areas that are provided uninterrupted gas supply.”
Swat District Coordination Officer Mahmood Saleem told PM Nawaz that 6,058 of the total 11,255 cheques had been distributed among the people whose houses were destroyed or damaged because of the quake. He assured him that all the victims would receive compensation by Tuesday.
Nawaz also surveyed several villages that were worst-hit during the massive quake. He met the victims and comforted them.
He was accompanied by K-P Governor Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan Abbasi and civil and military officials, who briefed him about relief activities and strategies for rehabilitation.
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Since October 26, the premier has made frequent trips to the earthquake-hit regions. Earlier, he had visited K-P’s Shangla and Dir districts, as well as Bajaur Agency in the tribal belt.
Meanwhile, politicians and people of Malakand division and Swat district have lauded Nawaz’s announcement regarding the Chakdara-Kalam Road. They said the road would help generate economic activities and bolster tourism in K-P, especially in Swat Valley.
Former provincial minister Wajid Ali Khan from Swat said construction of the 100km road would enhance connectivity and generate employment opportunities for hundreds of thousands of people.
Attaullah Khan, a resident of Saidu Sharif city in Swat, said the premier had won the hearts of the people of Swat. “The road’s construction would help address the problems of the people and businessmen travelling from Chakdara to Kalam, as well as significantly reduce the distance and save time.”
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He said traders associated with trout fishing, furniture, woollen garments, embroidery, handicrafts and hotel industries would largely benefit from the project.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2015.
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