ISLAMABAD, Sept 12: Hundreds of 2005 earthquake affected people including women of northern Hazara areas and flood affected areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) on Wednesday converged at Aabpara’s Community Centre in Islamabad to protest government’s failure to rehabilitate them in seven long years.

Women and men from KPK disaster-affected districts of Kohistan, Dera Ismail Khan, Tank, Nowshehra, Charsadda, Mardan, Abbottabad, Battagram, Mansehra, Haripur, Swabi and Swat reached the federal capital to raise their voice against federal and provincial government’s apathy.

The quake affected from Balakot were among the protestors who were kept waiting for constructed houses, in newly built town but are forced to live in makeshift shelters with no signs of a new town.

They also expressed their anger and discontent with government response to the devastating 2010 floods that affected more than 20 million people and the 2005 earthquake that devastated an estimated 3.5 million people at a Peoples Assembly on Disaster and Budgets organised by a NGO.

“Two years ago, the 2010 floods destroyed our homes, lands and livelihoods — but we have seen little government assistance for rehabilitation,” said Khanzada from Dera Ismail Khan.

Equally critical were people affected by the 2005 earthquake.

“Seven years have passed since the terrible earthquake destroyed everything — and yet our schools and health facilities have not been rebuilt,” complained Saira from Abbottabad.

“We were given assurances that our areas would be built back better, but even after seven years many of us are still living in makeshift shelters, waiting for the promised New Balakot City,” said Malik Irshad and Khurshid from Balakot.

Rashida Dohad presented government data that reconfirms public experiences.

According to ERRA, only a little more than half of the planned 14,555 rehabilitation projects are complete as of September 2012.

Nearly 60 per cent of planned education projects and 42 per cent of health projects are still not complete.

Addressing the assembly, the leaders criticised the government’s dismal response to disasters.

“The government has failed even in the face of unimaginable human misery,” said Ali Asghar Khan, head of the NGO.

Allocations for floods are marked by gross inequity. Dera Ismail Khan was among the worst affected by the 2010 floods, with an estimated 395,000 people affected. Yet it was only allocated 1.54 per cent of total funds for flood in FY2011-12, and 1.64 per cent in FY2012-13. Assistance to Kohistan and Nowshehra, also among the worst affected, fell far short of their due share calculated on the basis of the numbers of people affected.

Participants also demanded reconstruction of schools, health facilities and roads. “The Government must give us the money promised through Watan Cards,” they said.

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