QUETTA: People from some of the worst affected parts of Balochistan told Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif - who visited flood-hit Balochistan on Monday - that they were living without food or water in the tent village at Khushnoob in Qilla Saifullah.
“Strict action will be taken against officials for not providing food and water,” he told reporters after visiting tent villages during his second visit to the region in the week, where 136 people have so far been killed.
Officials from NDMA and PDMA briefed the premier on the relief work. PM Shehbaz visited the tent village in Khushnoob, Qilla Saifullah.
- 136 were killed including 47 children, 33 women, 56 men
- 70 were injured including 14 children, 10 women, 46 men
- 13,535 houses damaged
- Six highways covering 640km were severely damaged
- 16 bridges damaged
- 23,013 cattle killed
- Farms, solar plates, tube wells, and boring were damaged on the land of 1,907,930 acres
Deaths were reported in Bolan, Quetta, Zhob, Dukki, Khuzdar, Kohlu, Kech, Mastung, Harnai, Qilla Saifullah, and Sibi, the PDMA data issued on Sunday said. Lasbela, Jhal Magsi, and Turbat are in a critical situation, provincial government spokesperson Farah Azeem Shah said last week.
PM Shehbaz praised the Balochistan government for relief efforts, however, he lamented a “few shortcomings. He highlighted that there was no record-keeping in a few camps and announced that action would be taken against those responsible for the failure.
“I don’t doubt their intention. But with everything provided, the non-availability of the record is unacceptable,” he said, adding that flood-affected people left everything behind and came here. He stressed the need for improving relief work.
The premier ordered officials to “immediately provide food” to the flood-affected people.
“We were told that one month ration was provided to the people,” Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo said while standing next to the PM who was holding the umbrella. “But the situation is different here.”
He ordered that officials stationed for duty at Khushnoob be suspended and action taken against them.
The premier announced that a joint survey would be conducted by the PDMA and the NDMA to ascertain the negligence and further action.
Heirs of victims to receive Rs1 million each from Balochistan and federal govts
Families of the deceased in flash floods would get Rs1 million each from Balochistan and the federal government, PM Shehbaz announced while addressing a ceremony in Chaman.
“All national institutions are at your service,” he said in a message to the people, adding that medicines, nets, and medicines were being provided to them. Efforts are afoot for providing clean drinking, he added.
The premier had made similar demands while addressing people in Quetta. He had asked disaster management authorities to provide the compensation amount to flood victims and injured persons within the next 24 hours.
“But, despite if we say all this is good,” he said, “no there are shortcomings which needed to be rectified.” PM Shehbaz explained that CM Bizenjo’s decision to suspend the deputy commissioner and other officials for not providing food and water to the people in Khashnub was made to set an example for others so that such a mistake was not repeated.
He added that an inquiry would be conducted for such negligence and the people responsible would be punished. He further called for maintaining transparency in the distribution of compensation cheques to the affected people.
“Injured people will get more than Rs200,000,” the PM announced, adding that owners of houses damaged, partially or completely, would get Rs500,000 from Chaman to Lasbela. “This compensation amount will reach you very soon.”
He directed the NDMA and the PDMA to estimate the total damages in order to ensure transparency. “I will request Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa to ask their core commanders to help the government in field survey as it will be a national kindness.”
“Relief amount must be sent to them before they say anything,” he told reporters at the Quetta airport. “Neither NDMA nor PDMA should delay and send the compensation cheques immediately to the people.”
The premier added that the next stage was for the restoration of houses. “We have to end the difference between slum and concrete houses,” he said while reiterating that unprecedented rain caused damages on a wide scale.
Premier Shehbaz was of the view that a complete survey would help the government in making future decisions.
‘Eighth standard boy speaks like a grown up’
PM Shehbaz appreciated an eighth standard boy for the latter’s “competency, attentiveness, and sharp mind”. He was in awe of the boy’s view, describing that the school student spoke like a grown-up.
The premier ordered Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo to bring the boy to Quetta and provide him with free education.
- Quetta-Karachi Highway restored for traffic after seven days
- Bridge at Quetta-Karachi Othal blocked
- M-8 CPEC track in Khuzdar restored for traffic
- Quetta-Taftan track partially restored
The premier described the situation in flood-hit Balochistan as a “big challenge” for the government that would be tackled by working together.
“The federation and Balochistan government are committed to rehabilitation and resettlement with national spirit,” PM Shehbaz said. “We will not sit idle every house is settled.”
Balochistan Chief Secretary Abdul Aziz Aqeeli and NDMA Chairman Lieutenant General Akhtar Nawaz briefed the premier on the relief activities.
They said that the monsoon rain spell, which started on June 13, broke the past 30 years’ record. As many as 20,500 people were shifted to safe locations, they added.
Pakistan-Iran rail track restoration work still incomplete
The restoration work on the Pakistan-Iran rail track in Chagai was still incomplete, disrupting the bilateral service for the sixth consecutive day. Sources said that the track was partially damaged for 15 days, while it was completely damaged for the last six days and has been swept away by floodwaters.
Railway officials said that as many as Iran-bound four bogies of the train, laden with rice, were stuck at the Dalbandin Railway Station and Yak Mach.
A 100-year-old bridge built during the British era in the Ahmedwal area of the Nushki district has collapsed due to flash floods. Apart from this, the track of the railway track at Surgal Ahmadwal Jojki and other places has been damaged due to floods.
The work was going on to restore the railway track and send the trains, but it was difficult to complete it because there was still flood water at the place where the track has been damaged, railway officials said.
It may take more than a month to fully restore the track, sources said.
There was a risk of spoilage of rice due to rains and intense heat, officials said.
Rescue operations were underway to restore service between Dalbandin and Yak Mach while the main work, which is the restoration of the Ahmedwal Bridge Overbridge, has not yet started.
Landlords suffer ‘Rs2b of loss due to rotted date palm crops’
Flash floods have also caused irreparable loss to date palm orchards on a land of 18,000 acres in Panjgur and the date palm crop, which was in the final stages of preparation, has completely rotted.
“This year the date palm crop was very good but due to the monsoon rains it has completely rotted,” Maula Bakhsh Sanjrani, the president of farmers’ action committee, said while addressing a press conference. He was accompanied by other members.
“Due to which the landlords of the area have suffered financial losses of around Rs2 billion,” he said, adding that most of the Panjgur population’s livelihood depended on date palm orchards.
He was of the view that a loss of Rs4 million per capita is not usual, however, he alleged that the government was playing the role of a “mere spectator” to the losses of Panjgur farmers.
The committee president demanded of the provincial and federal governments to announce a special package for the poor farmers of Panjgur in order to overcome their financial complications.