ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Mohammad Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday issued an urgent appeal for food items for infants and toddlers stuck in flood-affected areas, as the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) reported another 37 deaths from flood-related causes over the preceding 24-hour period.
The death toll from the floods has now climbed to 1,545.
Addressing a meeting to review rescue and relief measures and the on-ground situation in flood-hit areas, the prime minister also urged the nation’s well-to-do to arrange blankets, quilts and warm clothes as winter is fast approaching.
The prime minister said donations could be sent to the affected areas directly, or routed through various humanitarian organisations, the relevant provincial departments or the different disaster response centres set up across the country by the armed forces.
The prime minister told the meeting participants that the heads and leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation member states had expressed solidarity and pledged support for the flood victims during his visit to Uzbekistan, for which he had thanked them individually.
With 37 more deaths in a day, toll from floods surges to 1,545
He said they had also inquired about Pakistan’s requirements, and he had told them that the country was making arrangements at the moment from its limited resources and spending billions of rupees on relief.
He said he had informed the SCO leaders that the government of Pakistan was conducting a joint survey for a more accurate estimate of losses during the recent floods, and that they would be apprised once its findings are available. The prime minister said the survey would help plug information gaps as it would be completed in collaboration with the provincial governments.
PM Sharif said the federal government was working to compensate the people for the thousands of houses destroyed in the natural calamity. He noted that electricity bills in the affected areas had been waived as a measure of relief.
Of the Rs70 billion allocated to support flood-affected families, who will each be given Rs25,000 in compensation, Rs30bn has so far been transparently distributed through the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), he noted.
Later, National Flood Response Coordination Centre (NFRCC) officials briefed the prime minister about their relief and rehabilitation activities. He was told that according to the latest estimates, 23 districts of Sindh, 31 of Balochistan, 17 of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and two districts of Punjab had been severely affected by the floods. The prime minister was also briefed about the losses of infrastructure, men, material and jobs in the affected districts.
Representatives of the national and provincial disaster management authorities separately informed the prime minister about their ongoing rescue and relief activities.
According to the NDMA’s Saturday statistics, 32 people had died in Sindh and five in Balochistan over a 24-hour period. According to the NDMA, 92 people were also injured in the same period from rain and flood-related incidents.
So far, 678 people have died in Sindh, 306 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 299 in Balochistan. There were another 191 deaths in Punjab, 22 in Gilgit-Baltistan and 48 in Azad Kashmir, according to NDMA figures.
Since June 14, 12,850 people have been reported injured in the floods.
More than 36,000 houses have been damaged across the country. As many as 80 districts in the country are still affected by rain and floodwater.
Restoration of electricity in Sindh
Meanwhile, work on the Dadu-Johi 132 kilovolt electricity transmission line continued on PM’s instructions, APP reported on Saturday.
Restoration of the transmission line will revive electricity supply to Johi, Wahi Pandhi and surrounding areas. The feeder for the Gorakh Hill Station will also be made operational, it was reported.
According to a press release, the NFRCC met in the evening for a special session to review stocks of essential food items, especially wheat. The forum was told that sufficient stock is being maintained in the country and that there is no shortage whatsoever.
The forum was briefed that all staples — such as wheat, rice, maize and sugar — are available in sufficient quantity and that measures are in place to ensure their availability in flood-affected areas.
The NFRCC was told that some elements were creating a false impression that wheat was short in the markets for their vested interests. The country has 153 days of wheat stock and there are plans in place to cover the annual national demand of 30.5mn tonnes, the forum was assured.
Officials instructed all stakeholders to ensure the availability of critical food items in flood-affected areas, particularly food for infants, such as dry milk, as well as dietary supplements for women. Stakeholders were additionally instructed to ensure adequate food stock as per area requirements and prevent hoarding at all costs.
Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2022