BAHAWALPUR: The Punjab government has geared up efforts to provide relief to the people of Cholistan by making water and medical services available.

The water is meant for the consumption of humans as well as the livestock they rear for sustenance.

The Punjab Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) and the Punjab Emergency Service (Rescue 1122) have joined the efforts of divisional and district administrations and the management of the Cholistan Development Authority (CDA) to help the distressed.

The government after receiving reports that the dry spell may continue in the desert for a longer period, has drawn up a plan to supply drinking water to the population. A number of people have already moved from Cholistan and some south Punjab areas to places where drinking water and food are available.

Water tankers, medical camps have been arranged

District Emergency Officer (DEO) Baqir Hussain, who is the focal person, told Dawn that the PDMA had provided seven water tankers (bowsers) -- each having a capacity of 45,000 litres -- to the people of Cholistan. He said the tankers reached Bahawalpur from Lahore and were dispatched to the six relief centres set up by the divisional administration.

The relief centres have been set up at Derawar Fort, Khutri Bungalow, Mithra Bungalow, Channan Pir, Chak No 75-DB and Kala Pahaar.

This would be in addition to the four water tankers of the CDA (Bahawalpur). Besides, he said, four water tankers attached with tractors would continue supply of drinking water at the four relief centres at the basic health unit of Derawar Fort, Channan Pir, Chak 75 DB and veterinary dispensary of Kala Pahaar.

The DEO said a squad of 57 personnel from district emergency centres of Rescue 1122, including Lodhran, along with six emergency vehicles, had been deputed to perform duties in three shifts at the designated relief centres in the desert. He said the contingency plan would remain in effect till the normalisation of the situation in Cholistan.

A major chunk of the human population has already migrated from the dense areas to the greenbelts for want of drinking water and fodder for their cattle. But still, people residing around the open water ponds are in need of water.

The PDMA bowsers would continue the supply of drinking water at the relief centres round the clock, said Mr Hussain. He said control rooms for technical assistance and emergency matters also had been established with focal persons at Yazman and Ahmedpur East.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Irfan Ali Kathiya visited the Cholistan areas having water shortage and announced that the six medical camps would be made functional, in addition to the six basic health units and 12 mobile dispensaries for the treatment of animals.

Some people have criticised the claim that 50 sheep have recently died in the desert area due to heat stroke and not for want of water.

Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2022

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