KARACH: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Friday said it was the government’s priority to first protect the people badly affected due to the unprecedented prolonged five spells of monsoon rains in 13 districts of Sindh and then rehabilitate them under a relief package.
“We cannot leave them under the open sky. The provincial government must mobilize all its resources to support the affected people by providing them tents, mosquito nets, drinking water, cooked and uncooked food, healthcare faculties, and vaccination of cattle.”
He issued the directives while presiding over a special meeting to review the losses and damages caused by heavy rains and the measures taken by the Sindh government here at the CM House.
The meeting was attended by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Local Government Minister Nasir Hussain Shah, Administrator Karachi Murtaza Wahab chief secretary, Karachi commissioner, Provincial Disaster Management Authority director general and other high level officials.
Minister Jam Khan Shoro and commissioners of Hyderabad, Shaheed Benazirabad, Sukkur and Larkana attended the meeting through video link.
Bilawal, who is also Pakistan Peoples Party chairman, said the heavy downpour had submerged thousands of villages and towns in the 13 districts of province.
“It has affected and rendered thousands of people homeless, therefore, their proper care is the responsibility of our government in Sindh,” he said and directed the chief minister to send the party assembly members to their constituencies for helping their people.
Syed Murad Ali Shah told the meeting that during the last 24 hours, Sanghar had received 319 mm rainfall, Umerkot 172 mm, Shaheed Benazirabad 162 mm, Qambar-Shahdadkot 158 mm, Tando Allahyar 150 mm, Hyderabad 142 mm, Khairpur 135 mm, Larkana 127mm, Naushehroferoze 112 mm and Tharparkar 105 mm.
Widespread thunderstorm / rain with heavy to very heavy falls at scattered places and extremely heavy falls at isolated places were expected all over Sindh, therefore flood warnings had been issued all over the province, he added.
Murad said the heavy rains had claimed 166 lives and injured 573, while according to the livestock department, some 2,849 cattle were perished, 47,399 houses damaged, including 6,489 fully and 40,910 partially damaged, and standing crops over 810,683 acres washed away/damaged.
Likewise, he said, 1,002 kilometers of 256 roads with 18 bridges had been damaged by the heavy rains all over Sindh.
The government, he said, had already declared nine districts as calamity-hit areas and four more districts would also be declared.
The chief minister said around 1.053 million people had been affected and 432,658 displaced. “We have set up 61 relief camps where 1,169 people have been shifted, and others, who were not ready to leave their homes, have been provided tents, mosquito nets, beds, and such other things through PDMA.”
Murad said as per rough estimates, the rehabilitation of affected people along with their houses and compensation for the losses of their damaged crops, shops, and repair of the damaged road network, bridges, and sewerage system would cost around Rs 40 billion.
As the provincial government had meager resources, the federal government would have to come over to help his government to rehabilitate the affected people, he added.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto assured the chief minister that he would talk to the prime minister to help the Sindh government.
Bilawal Bhutto was told that LBOD was in a precarious condition right from Sanghar, Shahdadputr up to Kaloi. It was pointed out that Mirpurkhas had received 36 hours of continuous rain on August 18, which had badly affected the whole district, Kot Ghulam Mohammad, and its adjoining areas.
The meeting was told that Latifabad and Qasimabad areas of Hyderabad were submerged, and dewatering machines were installed to drain out rainwater. Jamshoro, Majhad, Sehwan taluka, Johi of Dadu, Tando Mohammad Khan, and Tando Allahyar had also been affected badly.
It was informed that the Sukkur and Khairpur districts also received heavy downpours, due to which the entire date and cotton crops were washed away. The schools in Sukkur and Khairpur were closed for the last two days.
Larkana, Kambar-Shahdadkot, Shikarpur, and Kashmore hadalso been affected, therefore surveys of the losses and damages were being conducted there. The rain had also wreaked havoc in Nawabshah, Naushehroferoze, and Umerkot.
Bilawal Bhutto chairman directed Irrigation Minister Jam Khan Shoro to keep visiting the barrages and vulnerable points of different embankments to monitor the situation. All the concerned departments such as Local Government, Irrigation, PDMA, health, livestock, and revenue must be activated for the welfare of the people, and to protect their property, and the government assets.
He also directed the chief minister to improve the entire road network in Karachi and repair its sewerage system as soon as the rains were over. He directed the local bodies to start anti-mosquito and bacterial sprays in the areas where water had accumulated.
He directed the chief minister to keep him informed about the situation and the relief and rehabilitation work regularly.