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Protests greet CM during visit to rain-hit districts

September 11, 2012

SUKKUR, Sept 11: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, declaring five districts of the province ‘disaster-hit areas’, ordered immediate release of funds for the relief and rehabilitation of the affected families.

During his whirlwind tour of the upper Sindh areas along with his several cabinet ministers and advisers on Tuesday, Mr Shah announced release of Rs5 million for Jacobabad district and said relief funds were also being released for Shikarpur, Khairpur, Ghotki and Kandhkot-Kashmore districts.

Speaking to the media at the Sukkur airport and later in Shikarpur and Jacobabad, he said Rs12 million would be immediately released for the relief and rehabilitation of the rain-hit areas. Deputy commissioners of all the affected districts had already been asked to assess the losses and submit to him their reports immediately, he added.

Provincial Minister for Relief Haleem Adil Shaikh, Minister for Local Bodies Agha Siraj Durrani, Minister for Law and Prisons Ayaz Soomro and Minister for Minorities Affairs Dr Mohan Lal Kohistani accompanied the chief minister.

Sukkur Division Commissioner Inamullah Khan Dharejo, Sukkur District Deputy Commissioner Manzoor Ahmed Shaikh, Khairpur Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Abbas Baloch and other officials received the chief minister and his ministerial team at the local airport.

Soon after his arrival in Sukkur, the chief minister visited the various areas of the city as well as Shikarpur, Jacobabad and Kandhkot-Kashmore and spoke to rain-affected people and listened to their grievances. Most of them complained of the local administration’s indifference towards their plight and said that the district officials concerned failed to come to their rescue or provide any help during rains and flooding. They said the people of rain-hit district sustained heavy loss of life and property. Thousands of people had been rendered homeless by the natural disaster and needed immediate relief and assistance, they said.

They told the chief minister that officials of all relevant departments and civic agencies failed to discharge their duties efficiently while millions of people had to endure devastating rains, flooding, unavailability of essential commodities including water and power and a severe disruption in transport and communication facilities. No arrangements were made for dewatering of houses, lanes and fields, they complained.

They also informed the chief minister that 80 per cent of the rice crop had already been destroyed signalling a serious economic situation looming large on this region.

Mr Shah noted that no relief camps had been established for many thousands of people rendered homeless by the natural calamity nor were any arrangement made to provide food and essential commodities for their survival.

The chief minister issued directives to all district administrations to look into the grievances of the affected people and do the needful immediately.

While travelling to Jacobabad, Mr Shah found two-four feet deep water submerging the National Highway and a large number of vehicles, including heavy and long ones, stranded all along it for the past 48 hours.

The chief minister told the media that the Sindh government had already provided heavy machinery, generators, diesel and other necessary equipment for dewatering of flooded areas of Jacobabad, Shikarpur, Khairpur and Kandhkot-Kashmore. He said that relief goods had also been sent while directives had been issued for the setting up of relief camps. He said that army and Rangers personnel had also been deployed to assist the local administration in carrying out relief and rehabilitation operations in the worst-hit areas. However, he said that stern action would be taken against any official found negligent and inefficient in this regard. He said the performance of the North Sindh Urban Services Corporation (NSUSC) in its defined jurisdiction was also being monitored and any official of the corporation showing negligence would also be taken to task.

He assured the media and aggrieved people that the Army, Navy and Rangers personnel would be able to rehabilitate the affected population as they were providing all necessary assistance to them along with the civil administrations concerned.

He hoped that life in all upper Sindh districts would return to normal very soon.

Earlier, the chief minister held meetings with deputy commissioners of the affected districts who briefed him about the situation in their respective areas and the relief measures being taken to rehabilitate the rain-hit people.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people including traders and shopkeepers staged a demonstration along with activists of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F at Clock Tower, Sukkur, on Tuesday against the NSUSC’s failure to play its due role during rains and flooding.

They told the media that they suffered heavy losses due to the negligence shown by the corporation despite the fact that it had received huge funds. They appeal the chief justice of Pakistan to take suo motu notice of their plight and the corporation’s indifferent attitude.

They demanded arrest of the Sukkur-based chief of the corporation and its other senior officials who took no measures to operate dewatering machines and provide necessary civic facilities to the people in its area of operation.

They claimed that traders of Sukkur had already suffered losses to the tune of more than Rs1 billion due to destruction of their merchandise including cloth, food grain, medicines etc as rainwater had completely inundated their warehouses and shops.

They said they approached the commissioner and deputy commissioners but no action was taken against the corporation.