MIRPURKHAS: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday announced Rs one billion in aid for the affectees of the famine-hit Tharparkar region, DawnNews reported.
Nawaz Sharif was given a briefing in Mithi over the drought and famine condition in Thar.
The briefing was also attended by Information Minister Pervez Rashid, patron-in-chief of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah, former provincial chief minister belonging to the district Arbab Ghulam Rahim, provincial Information Minister Sharjeel Memon and other senior members of the PPP.
During the briefing Sharif announced an aid of Rs one billion for the province adding that the federal and Punjab government were ready to provide further assistance.
He said steps should be taken to avoid a similar situation from occurring in the future adding that if the situation in Thar and Cholistan was the same then how come there was no famine in Cholistan.
Facilities should be provided at the people’s doorsteps using mobile health units, the premier added.
Moreover, Sharif also said that CM Sindh should take serious notice of the incident and while taking action punish those responsible for negligence.
Qaim Ali Shah, while briefing the prime minister, said that the district had been declared as calamity-hit and the commissioner and deputy commissioner, who were responsible for the situation, were had already been removed from their positions.
He further said that a committee had been formed to ensure the transparent and equal distribution of relief among the affectees.
The provincial information minister said during the briefing that the deaths in the region had not occurred due to famine only rather there were other water-related issues and illnesses which claimed the lives of several persons.
Memon also admitted that 80 per cent areas of Tharparkar district were famine-affected.
Another PPP leader said that the Sindh govt had accepted the Rs 100 million in aid provided by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government
Prior to arriving in Mithi, the prime minister had reached Mirpurkhas where he was welcomed by the chief minister Sindh.
The prime minister upon his arrival had taken notice of the problems faced by people of Thar’s Mithi area due to security measures taken before his visit.
The premier in his statement issued to media said that hospitals must remain open for patients and they should have access to all areas.
Meanwhile, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also visited a hospital in Mithi today and inquired after the people affected by the calamity.
The premier was later on accompanied by Bilawal Bhutto and the duo visited the Civil Hospital Mithi.
After the visit to the hospital, the prime minister left for the Army Camp and he would also meet up with locals of the area.
Moreover, the premier along with Bilawal Bhutto and Qaim Ali shah were present in the briefing given by officials on the situation caused by drought and the progress of relief work.
The Deputy Commissioner Tharparker in a briefing said the Sindh government had distributed 1,25,000 wheat bags among the residents of six talukas of Thar.
He mentioned that 2030 bags had so far been distributed in Mithi while 1,030 had been given away in Islamkot.
He further said the wheat can be obtained from the help centres by showing identity card adding that Rs 0.2 million would be distributed among the families of the deceased.
The prime minister was apprised that out of the 4.5 million of livestock, sheep was the most affected animal.
The Deputy Commissioner added the 15 mobile teams were reaching out to the families of Tharparker to vaccinate the livestock particularly sheep.
Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah thanked the Prime Minister for taking emergency relief measures for the affected people.
A day earlier, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Pervaiz Rashid had said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had cancelled important engagements and would visit Tharparkar today to meet drought-affected people.
Poor health and communication infrastructure keeps the district disconnected from mainstream population.
In 2000, the desert suffered a famine that killed 90 percent of the livestock, the economic mainstay of the area.
Death toll reaches 62, SC told
Meanwhile, during today's hearing relating to the notice taken by Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani over the deaths in Thar, the apex court was informed that 62 children had died in the drought and famine affected region so far.
Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani had summoned top officials to the Supreme Court in Islamabad on Monday and said the country should “should hang down our heads with shame” over the conditions that led up to the deaths and the failure of government to prevent them.
Mumtaz Ali Shah, the home secretary for Sindh province where the desert lies earlier told the court: “At least 62 children died, mostly because of unusual cold weather leading to outbreak of pneumonia and poor medical facilities during last three months in Thar.”
Meanwhile, the province's advocate general Fateh Malik said the situation was not as bad as had been portrayed by the media, claiming disasters were the norm in the impoverished area.
Moreover, the Supreme Court affixed responsibility of the incident on the Sindh government while instructing it to submit a plan of action for the improvement of the situation.
The hearing was adjourned until Mar 17.