HYDERABAD: Speakers at a seminar discussed the devastation caused by recent unprecedented downpours and resultant floods in Sindh and demanded that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) of world repute should be tasked with relief operations.

Expressing their dissatisfaction over performance of the provincial government in handling the situation, they demanded resignation of the Sindh chief minister and his cabinet.

The also called for the setting up of a committee comprising senior-most Supreme Court judges to investigate causes of the devastations.

The demands were made through resolutions passed at the seminar on ‘Floods 2022 in Sindh, problems and solution’ organised by the Sindh Sufi Forum (SSF).

Seminar on floods demands setting up of SC judges’ committee for probe into devastation

Prominent literary figures and leaders of various political and nationalist parties including Riaz Chandio, Prof Mushtaq Mirani, Dr Badar Channa, Dr Zafar Junejo, Roshan Buriro, Ishtiaq Ansari, Prof Haleem Magsi, Hyder Shahani, Suleman Abro, Nazeer Qureshi, Noor Ahmed Katiar, Qamar Zaman Rajpar, Dr Gulzar Jumani, Taj Mohammad Nahiyoon, Habibullah Kaboro, Mir Hyder Talpur and Bukhshal Thalu participated in the seminar.

They called for punishing all those found by the proposed SC committee responsible for the massive devastation.

They accused the PPP government of intentionally drowning Sindh, and demanded that those who had breached dykes and occupied lakes should be brought to justice.

Pointing out that many human lives had been lost, they held the Sindh government responsible for the floods. “Sindh’s rulers are responsible for its present predicament,” they said.

One of the resolutions said that expenditure on irrigation and drainage since 2008 should be investigated and a case registered against “ghost” irrigation minister. The other resolutions said relief and aid distribution work should be tasked to sessions judges whereas focal persons of districts should be de-notified. The speakers said that a non-political committee comprising NGOs, civil society and women should be formed.

The seminar demanded interest-free loans, compensation for damaged crops and waiver of agricultural loans. Houses should be rebuilt for affected villagers, roads be repaired, dysfunctional drainage system and canals be restored and a health emergency be declared across Sindh. Malaria and dengue tests should be done free of cost, like it was done for Covid-19 tests, it added.

It said that the donations given by the UN and foreign countries should not be put at the disposal of Sindh government but, instead, chanelled through reputable international NGOs and construction companies.

The seminar said the federal government should restore national and Indus highways wheareas “gang tax” in the name of toll tax should be abolished. It said federal government should evolve a master plan for drainage and rainfall for entire Sindh. Work on the LBOD and RBOD projects should be completed and all obstructions in the process should be removed, it stressed.

It demanded that a ‘tent city’ should be established in Karachi to accommodate affected people and farmlands across the province be dewatered. Seeds and fertilizers should be provided to farmers at subsidised rates so that they could cultivate their crops.

The speakers said that coping with outbreak of waterborne diseases was the biggest challenge in the prevailing post-floods situation while the drainage of floodwaters was another big issue.

They demanded that 70pc of budget should be earmarked for disaster mitigation. They argued that the saline water drains were not meant for dealing with floodwaters. Sindh needed to have a new drainage system, they said.

Published in Dawn, September 25th, 2022

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