- Abdul Shakoor Khan
QUETTA, Sep 15 (APP): The federal and provincial governments and the philanthropists are all out for relief to flood affected in most parts of Balochistan amidst the challenge of reaching out to the vulnerable across the province.
Smashed communication infrastructure, veritable flood water, starvation, an outbreak of vector-borne diseases, and displaced families living in the open are some of the post- flood challenges in the worst-hit parts of the province.
By the time relief operation continues in full swing in Quetta, Musakhel, Pishin, Qila Saifullah, Zhob, Noshki, Sibi, Bolan, Qalat, Nasirabad, Jafarabad, Jhal Magsi, Awaran, Lasbela, Dera Bugti, Sohbatpur and Kachi areas.
Sohbatpur city and vicinity is the worst hit area still submerged in feet high water that destroyed all valuable of the poor families forcing them to survive under the sky waiting for relief.
“Though the magnitude of the climate-induced catastrophe was huge in terms of severity and intensity, the government is striving hard to continue relief operations and ensure its outreach to every affected person by putting utmost efforts,” Chief Minister Balochistan Abdul Qudus Bizenjo said.
“Federal and provincial departments, PDMA and Pak Army engaged in the calamity-hit areas are utilizing all available resources to mitigate the sufferings of the catastrophe-stricken people, ” the CM told APP. “We need Rs 200 billion to restore the damaged infrastructure and rehabilitate the displaced population,”
As per PDMA statistics, heavy rains and floods have affected 9,182,616 people in 35 districts of Balochistan claiming the lives of 281 people, damaging 64,385 houses, destroying 1386 km of roads, killing 270444 livestock, and washing away crops on about 0.2 million acre land.
“We are in dire need of tents, food, mosquito nets, and medicines,” said Asif Samim, head of Sohbat Pur Khidmat Foundation who has been carrying out relief activities in the worst-hit district Sohbatpur.
“During last 24 hours, 90 malaria cases were reported with majority of them children,” SKF chief lamented.
A district of 150000 people Sohbatpur is 100 percent inundated in flood water forcing its entire population to survive along roadside camps. Not a single house is livable with the irrigation department still struggling to clear the area from the water.
All districts in Naseerabad division including Naseerabad, Jaffarabad, Jhal Magsi, Kachi, Sohbat Pur, and Osta Mohammad more or less face the same issues.
“We are running out of medicines and clean drinking water,” said Saleem Khosa, Member Provincial Assembly adding that stagnant water and vector-borne diseases were posing life threats, especially to pregnant women and infants.
“A large number of malaria and skin disease cases are reported on daily basis,” Khosa said. “We are in dire need of anti-malaria medicine to treat our patients.”
The voice for immediate help did not go unnoticed as Prime Minister Mohammad Shehbaz Sharif paid an emergency visit to Balochistan to review the rescue and relief operation.
It was the fifth such visit of the Prime Minister to Balochistan during last 45 days setting a new example of frequent visits to stand by the calamity hit people and supervise the relief operation.
“Situation in the Naseerabad division is awful,” the Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had commented, directing the authorities to immediately ensure availability of drinking water and life-saving medicines in flood hit areas.
“Flood-hit areas would not be charged bills of August and September,” the PM directed the authorities and announced availability of drinking water and other food items in the areas within hours.
Briefing the Prime Minister on latest situation, Chief Secretary Balochistan Abdul Aziz Aqeeli informed that drainage of water from Sohbatpur and Dera Allah Yar may take 20 as repair work on 230 canal breaches was underway. He said a 100 feet channel is being established to provide clean drinking water besides provision of two mobile maternity units, life-saving and anti-venom medicines and over two million mosquito nets.
The Prime Minister directed to drain stagnant water within 10 days by employing additional human resources and machinery.
Despite all out relief efforts, it is quite usual to see unusual happenings like starvation, ailment, harsh weather and above all maternity issues.
Many women gave birth to infants at temporary shelters and direly need immediate mother
and childcare. Wife of Pasand khan Bugti, resident of Dera Allah Yar is one of them who delivered a baby at district’s bypass road shelter.
“Though, we receive cooked food for normal adults, yet are in dire of accessories pregnant mothers and newly born infants,” remarked Parliamentary Secretary Balochistan Government, Dr Rubaba Buledi. “Women and children are the most vulnerable group to water-borne diseases and we need to focus more on this area.”
According to PDMA and Pak Army data, 476 806 patients have been so far treated at 1631 medical camps set up under the supervision of Army, UNFPA, WHO, Mercy Corps, MSF, YDA, PPA, UNICEF, BRSP, PPHI and Health Department. As many as 5871 troops are also taking part in the relief operation.
According to Communications and Works department 53 out of 55 bridges and 534 out of 571 roads have restored fully or partially, opening most of the highways connecting Balochistan with the rest of the country.
Since the magnitude of calamity is massive, therefore it is high time for local and international donors to come forward and lend hand in relief and rehabilitation efforts.