PM directs enforcement of river bed zoning regulations to avert Swat-like destruction

PM directs enforcement of river bed zoning regulations to avert Swat-like destruction

ISLAMABAD, Sep 6 (APP):Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday directed the authorities concerned to ensure the effective enforcement of the zoning regulations regarding the utilization of land at river bed to avert the recurrence of destruction as had taken place in Swat consequent to the floods.

The prime minister, chairing the meeting of Federal Cabinet, expressed his concern over the destruction in Swat caused by human negligence due to the construction of hotels on the river bed.

He asked the authorities concerned to avoid politicking on such matters for the protection of human lives.

The cabinet meeting offered Fateha for the martyrs of armed forces as well as those killed by the flash floods.

The National Disaster Management Authority briefed the meeting about the flood situation, including the magnitude of destruction, ongoing rescue, relief and rehabilitation activities.

It was told that the floods had hit 6,615 union councils of 81 districts of the country, including 32 districts in Balochistan, 23 in Sindh, 17 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, six in Gilgit Baltistan and three in Punjab.

The NDMA informed the cabinet members that since June 14, the country had received 190% more rains than previous 30 years while Sindh had received 465% and Balochistan received 437% more rains.

The floods had killed 1,325 people, including 522 in Sindh, 289 in KP, 260 in Balochistan, 189 in Punjab, 42 in Azad Jammu & Kashmir and 22 in GB.  Around 12,703 people were injured, including 8,321 in Sindh, 3,844 in Punjab, 348 in KP, 164 in Balochistan, 21 in AJK and five in GB.

The monsoon rains had damaged 1.68 million houses, 246 bridges, 5,735 kilometers stretch of road and washed away 750,000 livestock.

The prime minister also established a National Flood Response and Coordination Center (NFRCC) to accelerate rescue and relief operations. A representative of the NFRCC told the cabinet that almost 80-90% of land would be made cultivable for wheat crop, which, otherwise, could risk a severe food crisis.

It was told that the prime minister had also directed the disbursement of Rs 25,000 each among the flood-victim families for which Rs 28 billion were allocated. Rs 20 billion of the said amount had so far been distributed and the rest Rs8 billion would reach the entitled families within next three days. A 55% chunk of the flood relief cash had been distributed in Balochistan.

Considering the massive losses caused by the floods, the cabinet also approved to increase the flood relief cash amount from existing Rs 28 billion to Rs 70 billion, and also formed a committee for its fair disbursement.

It was told that the prime minister had also announced Rs 15 billion for Sindh, Rs 10 billion each for Balochistan and KP, and Rs 3 billion for GB for the rehabilitation of  flood affected people.

The Federal Government had also provided Rs1 million each for the families of the deceased through the NDMA.

PM directs enforcement of river bed zoning regulations to avert Swat-like destruction

The prime minister particularly lauded the efforts of Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb and Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman, who carried out an effective awareness campaign through local and international media regarding the flood-caused destruction.

He said a proper drainage and better infrastructure were inevitable to protect the country against the natural calamities.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also appreciated the ministries of information, climate change, communications, energy and railways, Economic Affairs Division, Planning Commission, Benazir Income Support Programme and Frontier Works Organization for their efforts for awareness, rescue and relief of the flood-stricken countrymen.

Railway Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq told the meeting that the flood had damaged four railway lines and the traffic on Quetta-Sibbi section was suspended due to a damaged railway bridge.

Energy Minister Engineer Khurram Dastgir told the meeting that two of three 810MW power transmission lines of Balochistan had been restored. Currently, the closed grid stations were only which were inundated by the flood water.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, apprised the meeting about the flood situation in Sindh. The prime minister assured him the flood-affected families would be provided with tents and mosquito nets in coordination with the NDMA and PDMAs.

He also summoned a meeting of the NDMA as well as the representatives of all parties on Wednesday on the subject matter.

He directed the planning minister and NDMA chairman to immediately leave for Karachi to improve the relief and rehabilitation operation in coordination with the provincial government.

In this regard, the NDMA chairman told the meeting that 24,000 tents had been supplied so far to Sindh.

The prime minister thanked the international community including China, Turkey, UAE, Japan, Uzbekistan, Qatar, France, Turkmenistan, UNICEF and UNHCR for sending relief goods.

It was told that the UAE had sent relief goods worth $50 million. First consignment of relief good from Turkey had been received. China had increased its assistance by 400 million RMB and the UK also increased its assistance from 1.5 million pounds to 15 million pounds.

Moreover, the US had announced $30 million and Prince Aga Khan $10 million.

Saudi Arabia is also launching a relief program while Qatar and UAE leadership had assured of all possible assistance. The World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Japan International Cooperation Organization are also extending assistance.

The prime minister told the meeting that after 2010 floods, the high profile foreign personalities had visited Pakistan and had contributed to the rehabilitation of victims.

The prime minister said as the current flood situation was far more severer, he was convincing the foreign figures to visit Pakistan again as the existing challenge could only be met through coordinated efforts.

The prime minister also thanked the local as well as foreign media for creating awareness on the flood situation through their factual reporting.

He also spoke high of the role of the philanthropists, chambers of commerce and industries for their wholehearted support to the flood survivors.

Prime Minister Sharif also thanked all the chief ministers, chief secretaries and provincial departments for their active participation in rescue and relief activities.

He said considering it a huge challenge, all the federal and provincial institutions should dedicatedly work to cope with the challenge, setting aside their political associations.

The federal cabinet also endorsed the decisions of the Economic Coordination Committee taken in its meeting held on August 30, 2022 including the development of business plan by NHA, G-20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative, refixing national wheat strategic reserves to the level of 2 MMT, Emergency Case Assistance to affectees of flash floods 2022 and approval for arrangements and expenditure related to on-site visits of FATF/APG Assessor Team.

Categorized as National

By Ishtiaq Rao

Ishtiaq Ahmed is a Sr. Reporter who reports on Prime Minister, President, Foreign Office, and special assignments. Backed by 20-year experience, he has written for local and foreign newspapers. Reach out at 03335293238/ [email protected]/ X: ishtiaqrao

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