GILGIT: Members of the Gilgit-Baltis­tan Assembly have demanded an investigation into alleged corruption and misuse of funds provided for the rehabilitation of flood-affected people in the region.

According to the lawmakers, billions of rupees of funds provided by the federal government and non-government organisations for flood-affected are­as have been embezzled.

Javed Ali Manwa, an opposition member, tabled a motion in GB assembly on Tuesday, to “draw attention towards the flood-hit people”.

He told the assembly that rains, flash floods and glacial lake outburst floods (Glof) had triggered disasters across GB and damaged roads, bridges, water and irrigation channels, cu­­­­ltivated lands and homes.

Mr Manwa said the assembly needed to review the utilisation of funds for flood rehabilitation. He su­­g­­gested a parliamentary co­­­mmittee to probe the imp­lementation of the foreign-funded project Glof-II at a cost of billions of rupees.

Speaker forms committee to oversee rehabilitation work

He said installing early warning systems, conducting seminars in five-star ho­­tels and arranging exposure visits un­­der the proj­e­­ct cannot control disasters.

The GB Disaster Mana­gement Autho­rity had only one task: to provide tents and food in affected areas, Mr Manwa said.

The GB government had sent a PC1 to the federal government for the rehabilitation of victims affected by natural disasters, but it had yet to be approved, he said.

Another opposition me­­mber, Nawaz Khan Naji, also claimed that funds for last year’s flood victims have been misused and em­­bezzled. “The victims have voluntarily restored water channels while funds in the name of disasters have been embezzled.”

The government provided a lot of funds to flood-affected people, but the money was “distributed among blue-eyed people”, he said.

Those who became hom­eless in the disaster didn’t get any compensation so far, Mr Naji claimed. He also demanded a fair investigation into the matter.

Deputy Speaker Sadia Danish also claimed that billions of rupees marked for the Glof-II project have been misused in the name of seminars but no practical work can be witnessed.

She suggested the project’s representatives should appear before the house and brief about the implementation

Replying to these claims, GB Interior Minister Shams Lone said disaster losses across GB were being assessed. Advo­c­a­­te Amjad Hussain, a lawmaker from treasury benches, said funds provided for flood-hit people were not utilised prope­rly by the last government.

“There are flaws in the GB disaster policy which need to be removed,” he said while suggesting the speaker constitute a parliamentary committee to monitor rehabilitation works in flood-affected areas and review disaster assessments.

Minister for Excise and Taxation Rehmat Khaliq also said people in flood-affected areas were suffering but rehabilitation work has not started yet. Later, Speaker Nazir Ahmed constituted a five-member parliamentary co­­mmittee, headed by Public Accounts Committee Cha­i­rman Ayub Waziri, to rev­i­­ew rehabilitation work and submit a report by Friday.

Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2023

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