KARACHI: A police report has blamed Sindh government officials for the humanitarian crisis in Thar. It says delays in submission of files and summaries coupled with frequent transfers of officials and failure of the district administration and the health department to take notice of the growing child mortalities led to the crisis.

The report prepared by DIG Hyderabad Range Dr Sanaullah Abbasi, SSP Badin and member of the inquiry committee Sarfraz Nawaz and ASP Qazi Ahmed area and member Asif Amin Awan will be submitted to the Karachi Registry of the Supreme Court which had taken notice of the death of children in Thar because of malnutrition. The report was prepared on the directives of the apex court. The report was provided to Dawn by Faisal Siddiqi, a Karachi-based lawyer.

The report says the request for declaring Thar as a calamity-hit area was delayed at the district level for more than two months. “The request was forwarded by the Tharparkar deputy commissioner (DC) to Mirpurkhas commissioner. Two of the three mukhtiarkars (heads of revenue departments at the taluka level) submitted their reports to the DC by the end of September last year and the third on Nov 28, after a delay of almost two months. But the DC office did not ask him to submit a report if there was any emergency,” the police report says.

There was a further delay at the Sindh secretariat level. The secretariat took three months to act on the summary (submitted on Dec 23, 2013) as the notification declaring Thar as a calamity-hit area was issued on Feb 28 this year.

The government, according to the report, usually declares a state of drought in Thar by September or October when there is less than normal rainfall.

On the issue of liabilities of transportation charges that hindered the process of distribution of wheat bags, the report says transporters participated in the bidding process, won the contracts and started their work.

However, the district administration wrote several letters to the relief commissioner for clearing the liabilities for a long period, but in vain.

“Besides, the finance department owes responsibility/explanation for delay in clearing liabilities despite repeated references by the district administration. Even the liabilities of wheat procurement were an issue,” the report says, adding that despite these hiccups relief work started on time on credit.

The report says there was an increase in the number of child mortalities at the Mithi Civil Hospital over the past three years. About 141 children were killed in 2012-13 and 196 in 2013-14. There was a sharp increase in deaths in June, July and February.

“The situation is very alarming as 79 per cent of the posts in specialist cadre and 65pc posts in general cadre are lying vacant in the district health facilities. Death of children due to carious causes can be attributed to non-availability of paediatricians,” the report says.

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