MANSEHRA, Sept 3: Hundreds of the earthquake survivors of four union councils in Balakot took to the streets on Monday in protest against prolonged delay in the release of third instalment of the housing compensation.“Winter is about to begin but we are still living in makeshift houses. If the remaining instalments of the compensation are not paid to the survivors right away, the winter will bring another disaster for us. Many children and old people died due to pneumonia during last winter,” said one of the survivors.

Hundreds of the survivors from Satbani, Ghanool, Garlat and Kawai took out a procession in Satbani area and chanted slogans against the administration of the Earthquake Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Authority (Erra) and Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP). They demanded immediate release of the remaining instalments of the housing compensation. The protesters marched on various roads before gathering in a local ground where their leaders addressed them.

The president of the Committee for the Rights of Earthquake Survivors, Nazeer Ahmad, Councillors Mohammad Haroon and Sardar Alam said it was tragic that over 4,000 affected families were deprived of even their first instalments as they had migrated to other parts of the country after the earthquake in 2005.

They said the SRSP officials had surveyed their damaged houses but people were still waiting for the payment of compensation to begin reconstruction.

They said that the Asian Development Bank had assigned the SRSP the responsibility of carrying out the survey in the Satbani, Kawai, Garlat and Ghanool union councils of Balakot tehsil but most of the survivors were still deprived of the third instalment despite repeated visits to the offices of the programme in Mansehra and Balakot.They said the second anniversary of the Oct 8, 2005, earthquake was only a month away but over 70 per cent of the survivors were living in makeshift houses without basic amenities.

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