KARACHI: Rejecting the claims of relief to the flood victims and their rehabilitation, opposition members in the Sindh Assembly on Tuesday said that the natural calamities such as floods or rains couldn’t be prevented, but losses could be reduced through proper planning.
On the second day of discussion in the house on devastation caused by unprecedented monsoon rains and flash floods in the province, the treasury members belonging to the Pakistan Peoples Party continued to speak high of the party’s central leadership and the provincial government for “timely action and effective” measures to cope up with the flood situation, but the opposition members came hard on the PPP taking jibes for “inaction”.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf MPA Arsalan Taj said that the meteorological department had warned about the unprecedented rains in early March this year, but the provincial government and its ministers were busy in a long march against the PTI-led federal government.
He alleged that during the tenure of incumbent Sindh government, the relief funds for Covid-19 were embezzled, adding that misappropriation was also being committed in floods relief funds.
Speaker Durrani warns absentee lawmakers of initiating de-seating proceedings
The PTI members said that around 43 per cent of the provincial budget had been allocated for education and health sectors. “Why the buildings of such a large number of schools and health facilities caved in?” he asked.
PPP’s Nida Khuhro, who had tabled the adjournment motion for discussion on flood situation, in her speech said that 33 million people had been affected in Sindh.
She said that the houses that were destroyed belonged to the poor.
“Sindh government has provided enough relief to people and is still taking measures for their rehabilitation,” she said.
Grand Democratic Alliance’s MPA Shaheryar Khan Mahar said that Khairpur and Faizganj were still submerged into the water. He alleged that the provincial government was still carrying out malpractices in the relief and rehabilitation activities.
“The Sindh government is responsible for all this disaster,” he said, adding that the 93 people died in his constituency in Shikarpur alone.
He said that the opposition did not say that it was man-made disaster and the provincial government flooded the province. “But, yes we do say that you [provincial government] failed to save it,” he said.
Mr Mahar said that the entire province was submerged mainly due to inefficiency of the irrigation department.
He said that proper de-silting and lining of canals had not been conducted during the tenure of the present irrigation minister. “Almost 80pc of de-silting has been done only on paper,” he alleged and said the crops could have been saved if the irrigation department had actually done any work on the canals.
The GDA MPA said that the departments of irrigation, health and local government stood exposed in the recent floods.
He underlined the need to start taking preventing measures to minimise the losses of the natural calamities.
Minister for Women Development Syeda Shehla Raza said that only her party was standing in the relief camps after the floods. “We did not leave the people alone even in 2010 [floods] and we will not leave the people alone now,” she vowed.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan member Mangla Sharma said that flood or rain were all natural calamities which cannot be prevented, but the losses can be reduced through proper planning.
“At this time, all the people in the affected areas are worried,” she said adding that during her visit to flood-affected areas she noticed people standing in queues for relief goods, but not get relief materials.
She asked the provincial government as to what measures were adopted to save people in the future,
PPP’s Sadia Javed and Sharmila Farooqui, MQM-P’s Nasir Qureshi, Bilal Ahmed of PTI and GDA’s Dr Rafiq Bhanbhan also spoke on the adjournment motion.
Separately, Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani on Tuesday warned that the de-seating proceedings might be initiated against the members who regularly remained absent, if they failed to turn up to attend the ongoing session of the provincial assembly.
The speaker became irked on the lethargic attitude of the lawmakers from both the sides of the aisle as hardly 60 of the 168 lawmakers attended the sitting on Tuesday. Many ministers were amongst those members who either did not turn up or so far distanced themselves from the discussion so far.
“I don’t see much interest from members. This [lack of interest] may prove to be very costly,” he told the lawmaker hinting at approaching the Election Commission of Pakistan.
Durrani said that members turned up only once to mark their attendance for next and previous days of sitting,” he added.
He expressed his displeasure that the members were not willing to attend the session despite it was summoned after a gap of four months.
Later, the session was adjourned to Wednesday (today).
Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2022