By Ali Jabir
ISLAMABAD, Aug 28 (APP): Millions of countrymen are left homeless with flood wreaking havoc in most parts of country inflicting miseries and loss of billions of rupees on a nation already struggling against economic recession.
Tales of agony and pain are all around in most parts of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces and Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan with people losing their dear ones, household, residences, cattle and valuables as well as crops .
The situation continues worsening amidst eighth spell of mighty monsoon that submerged roads infrastructure and the railways tracks hindering the relief activities in areas totally cut off from rest of the country.
Most miserable is a situation where in some areas people do not find dry land to bury their kith and kin who could not escape the furious flood tides that submerged their bricks and mud homes.
National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Armed Forces, civil society, philanthropists and welfare organization are toiling hard to reach out to stranded people with direly needed accessories. But the volume of calamity is too colossal that affected around 300 million, claiming lives of approximately 930 people, killing thousands cattle heads and ruining crops on hundreds of thousands acre land.
Starting from June 14, there has been no let up in the massive downpour inundating the plains and the hilly areas in most parts of the country with Balochistan, Sindh and South Punjab worst hit by this catastrophe.
Cognizant of the severity of this ethereal calamity – one of the biggest in our country’s history, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, the federal government, Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa and Armed Forces along with provincial governments, civil society and Non-governmental Organizations are all out for gearing up relief activities in affected areas.
The federal government has announced Rs 37.2 billion relief package for flood affected with each family getting immediate cash relief of Rs 25,000 through BISP as the Prime Minister announced Rs 15 billion for Sindh’s affected areas. Separate compensation shall also be paid for losses of family members and other losses including houses damage.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Army Chief Qamar Bajwa rushed back home after concluding their Qatar visit and embarked on visits to affected areas for supervising the relief activities. Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah are already in the affected areas to console the grieved families.
Losses are being assessed as the Prime Minister briefed foreign diplomats in Pakistan that the calamity is colossal and losses may be much more than the 2010 floods.
According to the PM Office, the international organizations and financial institutions had announced an immediate assistance of more than $500 million for the flood victims on the prime minister’s appeal.
The Prime Minister also met representatives of the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, international financial institutions, United Nations and World Health Organization, development partners and donors for assistance in relief activities.
“Torrential rains had not been taking any respite with up to 1,100 millimeters rains in many flood-hit areas submerging 23 districts of Sindh,” said Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman.
“Pakistan Meteorological Department data shows 241% above average monsoon rainfall during the month of August,” she said and quoting that Sindh received 784% more rains than average.
The current deluge in the Indus River is even more than the super flood of 2010 as the federal government has declared national emergency besides creating the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund for donations.
“Almost 30 million people are without shelter, thousands displaced and without food. A needs assessment is underway that will help approach donor agencies for relief and rescue,” the Climate Change Minister said.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in coordination with the provincial disaster authorities (PDMAs) is continuously executing relief activities besides issuing daily situation.
Like always the officers and jawans of Armed Forces are once again on front foot daring all odds and working in extreme situation to ease out miseries of their brethren.
As per updates on Saturday evening, the death toll had reached 1033 including 348 children, 207 women and 456 men whereas 1,527 people got injured including 355 children, 369 women and 803 men.
The massive torrential rains in the past 24 hours have damages 48 shops, 40 in Punjab and eight in Gilgit Baltistan (GB), impacted 290 kilometers (km) roads whereas 83,025 livestock animal died whereas 267,719 houses got damaged during heavy downpour incidents including 60,693 fully damaged and 207,026 got partially damaged during rains.
However, the cumulative damages so far stated that almost 3451.5 km road, 149 bridges and 170 shops, 949,858 houses and 719,558 livestock animals got damaged due to the heavy rains in various district of all the provinces including that of Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).
The NDMA so far provided 34,384 tents, 56,850 tarpaulins, 178,804 mosquito nets, 17,650 blankets, 6,800 hygiene kits, 9,944 kitchen sets, 29,400 food packs, 18,860 first aid kits, 106 generators, 160 chemical spray machine, 12,000 jerry cans, 1,000 sleeping bags, 207 dewatering pumps and 350 life saving jackets.
The PDMAs also provided 152,291 tents, 53,310 tarpaulins, 184,534 mosquito nets, 18,695 blankets, 27,509 plastic mats, 21,405 jerry cans, 34,888 water bottles, 142 water filters, 10,410 water coolers, 134,489 food packs, 2,731 cooked food, 9,135 gas cylinders, 3,895 hygiene kits, 17,599 kitchen sets, 1,016 first aid kits, 216 dewatering pumps, 5,607 beds and accessories, 40 boats and 357 life saving jackets.
The Sindh, Balochistan and South Punjab are so far the worst flood hit areas where millions of people still await assistance and it is high time for the governments, state institutions, civil society and donors to stand united in this hour of challenge.
It is also obligatory on international community including the UN, WB, ADB, IDB, EU, other IFIs and Pakistan’s brotherly nations and the trade partners to lend a hand with Pakistan as calamity is far beyond the available resources within the country.