ISLAMABAD, Sept 20: The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Climate Change has criticised the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) for lack of coordination with provinces to lessen damages from rain and floods. “The reality on the ground is different from the picture you have drawn before the members,” MNA Syed Tayyab Hussain told NDMA member Anjum Asad Ameen who was speaking on behalf of her chairman Zafar Iqbal.

“There was zero coordination with the elected representatives or the local communities,” said the MNA who explained how he had to fight and use personal influence to get money for diesel for his town in Hyderabad.

MNA Dr Lal Chand seconded Syed Tayyab Hussain who added that the chairman of NDMA never bothered to call back despite repeated attempts to contact him.

Although the NDMA officials tried to explain to the committee that its role was limited to coordination and that Provincial Disaster Management Authorities (PDMAs) were supposed to deliver on the ground, the members said that blame was always shifted to the provinces.

While members insisted that NDMA took elected members on board when it came to distribution of aid to affected areas, was when MNA Haji Rozud Din also criticised NDMA’s ‘short term’ approach to disaster prevention/mitigation.

“It is sad that NDMA’s role and planning is limited to supplying tents and ration packs and not thinking long -term. The floods did not just affect the vulnerable areas but crippled the entire country when roads were submerged and bridges were washed away. Why did the disaster management organisations and government not plan how to prevent damages to infrastructure especially when natural disasters were becoming regular phenomenon,” said Haji Rozud Din describing NDMA’s flood fighting efforts as failure.

However, NDMA maintained that properties were damaged and lives lost only because provinces did not comply with the contingency plans (also available on line).

“Taking it forward from past experiences, the government of Sindh was informed to prepare for possible damages of more than the floods of 2010 and 2011 put together”, said Anjum Asad Ameen. She explained that Sindh suffered the most because the province did not take necessary measures including setting aside an amount of Rs5 billion to cope with worst scenario.

In her presentation, Anjum Asad Ameen explained how out of the Rs710 million relief package announced by the PM to supplement efforts in six flooded districts of Sindh Rs200 million had been diverted to Jacobabad that had been hit hard.

Sharing the breakdown from damages caused across the country, Anjum Asad Ameen said, Sindh was the worst hit province with 188 deaths out of a total of 370 (Punjab followed with 60 fatalities and Balochistan with 49 deaths).

The total population affected was 4.4 million compared with 20 million in 2010 and 9 million in 2011. Sindh alone had more than 2.88 million people affected. And as much as 1.7 million acres of land was affected during the floods.

“The NDMA is short of more than 2, 000 tents. We are still waiting for feedback on further needs and requirements from the provinces”, said Anjum Asad Ameen.

Updated Sep 20, 2012 10:29pm

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