• Huddle of top civil, military brass resolves to get rid of illegal structures along riverbanks
• PM visits Nowshera, Charsadda; CM Bizenjo anticipates flood losses over Rs200bn for Balochistan alone
ISLAMABAD / QUETTA / CHARSADDA: The ruling alliance on Monday held threadbare discussions to devise comprehensive plans for the relief and rehabilitation of millions of flood victims, as well as chalking out a strategy to meet natural catastrophes of this magnitude in future as the flooding caused by unprecedented monsoon rains swept nearly a third of the country.
The meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, also decided to form a National Flood Response and Coordination Centre to provide proper institutional response to the calamity, which will comprise federal ministers, representatives of armed forces, chief ministers and experts
It was also decided that all illegal constructions on the banks of rivers and other water courses would be removed.
Read: Apocalypse now
The meeting was attended by the top civil and military brass, including the three services chiefs, the chief ministers of Balochistan and Sindh through video link, leaders of allied parties, federal ministers and senior officials from Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.
After the meeting, in a series of tweets, the PM Office said: “The Centre will serve as a bridge between disaster management authorities, donors and government institutions. It will collect and analyse latest information and pass it on to the relevant government agencies. It will also oversee rescue and relief work including restoration of infrastructure.”
Earlier, during a visit to the flood-hit areas of Charsadda and Nowshera in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, PM Shehbaz announced Rs25,000 for every family hit by the calamity, saying the funds would be disbursed by September 3.
The prime minister also visited relief camps set up at the Abdul Wali Khan sports complex and at the Agra union council in Charsadda and met with the affected families.
The PM told reporters that the families of flood victims would be provided with Rs1 million.
QWP chairman Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao and JUI (F) district emir Maulana Gohar Shah also briefed the prime minister on the reconstruction of Munda headworks and efforts to rehabilitate the flood affected population.
The devastation from flooding caused by hill torrents and rains is continuing in Balochistan hampering rescue and relief operation and efforts to restore connectivity with other provinces and creating fear of food shortage, while more deaths are being reported from different areas of the province.
During an interaction with journalists on Monday, Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Qudus Bizenjo revealed that the province suffered over Rs200 billion in financial losses due to rain and flood related damages over the past couple of months. In the past, he said, destruction from natural disasters was limited to certain areas, but this flood had affected all 34 districts.
He said that a survey was being conducted in all the affected districts and the losses may be well over Rs200bn when the final report is presented.
He said that due to a lack of connectivity, the province could face acute food shortages and said that he had suggested to the prime minister that food and other items should be airlifted to the province.
Separately, five members of a family including four women were killed when the roof of their house collapsed in Mach area of Bolan district.
In addition, gas supply to Quetta and other areas of the province could not be restored as the Bolan River was still in high flood, washing away three big bridges in Bibi Nani, Mach and near Dhadar of Bolan district, which closed the Quetta-Sukkur highway for the last two weeks. Commander 12 Corps Quetta Lt-Gen Asif Ghafoor also visited the Bibi Nani bridge area and asked the concerned officials of NHA to complete the repair on all three bridges within the next 24 hours.
In view of the serious flood and rains situation, the Balochistan government has extended closing of all government and private schools, colleges and universities for another week, until September 4.
Published in Dawn, August 30th, 2022