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Recurring flood warnings fall on deaf ears

July 24, 2012

ISLAMABAD, July 23: Predictions for the monsoon rains this year are alarming. However, the government and its concerned departments have been turning a deaf ear to the warnings being issued repeatedly and are still unmoved.

The state of affairs was criticised by none other than the Chairman National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Dr Zafar Iqbal Qadir, himself, Monday during a meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change in these words: “Total rain in Pakistan during monsoon season will be five to 15 per cent above normal range due to which 29.3 million people can be affected and Rs16.94 billion will be required to provide them basic facilities for one month only but the federal government and relevant departments have not taken satisfactory measures to save the people from these floods.”

The meeting was chaired by Dr Saeeda Iqbal and members Rubina Khalid, Surriya Ameeruddin, Rubina Irfan, Mohammad Daud Khan Achakzai, Baz Mohammad Khan, Mohammad Saleh Shah and Heman Dass participated in it.

Dr Qadir said that 486,666 tents and 973,332 blankets were required but at the moment only 51,475 tents and 198,069 blankets were available in the stock.

Moreover, 973,332 mosquito nets were required but only 37,298 of them were at hand whereas 14.6 million ration bags were still required, he added.

“We need Rs11.68 billion to arrange the ration bags having 10kg food per person per month and Rs4.48 billion for the purchase of 435,191 tents.

“Minister for Climate Change Rana Mohammad Farooq Saeed Khan has written many letters to prime minister and the provincial governments to take precautionary measures but only Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have reserved some funds for the disaster management,” he said.

“Federal government was requested to allocate Rs5 billion for the floods in the provinces and Rs1 billion for Fata areas. Sindh and Punjab governments were requested to allocate Rs5 billion each but they did not bother to allocate any fund at all,” he shared.

Saeeda Iqbal warned that federal government should take the matter seriously and assured the committee would play its role to convince the former.

“Trees are being chopped down due to which fear of floods has increased manifold. The only solution is to do new plantation because trees resist erosion of land and help save localities from floods,” she suggested.

Dr Qadir claimed the NDMA had been planning to have 9 million people insured and that was how they would be provided with  food, shelter and other necessities of life because in 2010, the government announced Rs90 billion for the flood affected people but funds could not be released for them.

Rubina Irfan showed her concern on it and inquired: “The NDMA does not have money to buy tents and other items, how will it arrange money for the premium?” To this Dr Qadir replied that both government and the people of the area would contribute to pay the premium and the insurance would start from next year that would continue for the next 30 years.”

Dr Qadir further said there were so many challenges faced by the country including construction of new dams, improvement of drainage system, enhancing capacity of relevant departments and allocation of separate funds for the disaster risk financing.