KHYBER: The district administration of Khyber has geared up to restart the stalled survey of damaged houses in upper Bara and Tirah as part of the Citizens Losses Compensation Programme (CLCP) despite a severe financial crunch.
Officials said that they planned to conduct damage assessment survey of about 20,000 houses in parts of upper Bara including Kamarkhel, Bar Qambarkhel, Malakdinkhel, Abdaalkhel, Sikandarkhel, Qaroonkhel, Waliyakhel, Mandukhel and Darzikhel as well as areas of Akkakhel, Zakhakhel, Bar Qambarkhel and Malakdinkhel in Tirah valley.
Deputy Commissioner Abdul Nasir told Dawn that the administration was in the process of devising a plan to simultaneously start surveys in those areas in the coming ‘few days’.
He admitted that the administration was faced with acute financial issues with no ‘operational budget’ at hand due to freezing of the accounts. However, he said that administration was trying to generate required funds to restart the survey without further delay.
Rs4,118m distributed among 14,600 affected families in the tribal district so far
“Whether we get the required funds or not, that will be seen later but the people whose houses were damaged due to militancy want the survey to be started immediately so that they become free of the ban of not repairing their houses prior to holding of survey as they are in dire need of a shelter,” said Mr Nasir.
Officials tod this scribe that so far Rs4,118 million were distributed among at least 14,600 families whose houses were either completely or partially damaged in over one decade of militancy in Tirah and upper and lower Bara. They said that they still had more than 3,000 pending cases for compensation that were declared legitimate after the initial survey.
The survey was abruptly stopped a year ago without citing any tangible reason while the remaining displaced families in upper Bara and pockets of Tirah were allowed to go back to their areas where more than 90 per cent of houses were not fit for living.
“Somehow, I do not actually know what went wrong that the survey was suddenly stopped in June 2022,” said a disgruntled Abdul Nasir. He added that his predecessors made mistakes in conducting previous surveys, which multiplied the sufferings of the affected families.
He was however quick to add that the administration was now in constant touch with the provincial government for speedy disbursement of the required funds.
But Provincial Caretaker Minister for Relief and Rehabilitation Taj Mohammad Afridi told this scribe that he was not very optimistic that the federal government would release the required funds as the country as a whole was faced with grave financial crises.
“It will require a huge and collective effort to secure these funds with Khyber as not an exception,” he said and added that thousands of affected families in other parts of the newly-merged districts were also awaiting compensation.
Official sources said that more than 40,000 families in North Waziristan were also awaiting compensation for the damage caused to their homes. The federal government, they said, was yet to ‘commit’ those funds while Khyber too had asked for such an amount.
The additional deputy commissioner, Sayed Nauman Ali Shah, told this scribe that they would require at least three to four million rupees for the start of the stalled survey. “This amount, if provided, will only be sufficient for transportation of survey teams to the affected areas,” he said.
He said that the administration was trying its best to start the survey as soon as possible with at least six or seven survey teams to cover a minimum of 30 houses a day.
He, however, stated that the administration could not set an actual timeline for the completion of ‘yet-to-be-started’ survey nor were they in a position to meet the timeline for a number of reasons.
“Security situation, weather condition, on the spot availability of the owner of the damaged house and holidays for different reasons could possibly push back the desired completion time of the survey,” he said.
Mr Shah said that alongside timely disbursement of required funds, security forces’ cooperation was also vital both for the start and completion of survey.
Families whose houses were completely damaged due to militancy are entitled to Rs400,000 as compensation while those with partial damages are awarded Rs160,000.
Many of the affected families in Tirah and Upper Bara and even in other militancy affected areas of newly-merged districts said that the amount was ‘too little’ owing to the current rise in the cost of construction material and labour charges.
Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2023