Whereas the 2010 and 2011 floods made headlines, those that struck this year have somehow gone virtually unnoticed. Only rarely does news of havoc caused by floods hits the headlines. The world seems not to have noticed and even within the country, there is a lack of awareness about the miserable state in which millions are surviving. The reasons for this callousness and indifference need to be taken note of.
The statistics themselves show just how much damage has been caused. Countrywide, the rains have affected some five million people and claimed 440 lives. As we saw in 2011, the worst-hit province is Sindh, where 3.2 million people have been affected, crops on about a million acres or more have been completely or partially destroyed and 2,500 persons left injured. This amounts to a calamity in a province still recovering from the aftermath of the devastating 2010-11 floods, which affected all districts of Sindh. As before, other provinces have also suffered.
Ninety-five per cent of the residents of Jaffarabad and Naseerabad are shelterless according to a report in this newspaper; crops have also been damaged and 75,000 cattle heads washed away. In Punjab, too, notably in the southern district of Rajanpur, land has been destroyed and lives ravaged. In Azad Kashmir, we hear of some 2,500 homes being washed away, mainly by hill torrents that raced down mountainsides. The question of flood preparedness has been raised yet again but right now, it is rather academic. The issue at hand is what is being done to help these people. Unsurprisingly, it seems not enough.
Complaints have come in from many flood-hit areas, but especially those coming from Balochistan, that the flow of aid is insufficient and not enough medicines, food or clean water has been delivered, need to be taken seriously. Water-borne diseases are being reported. The National Disaster Management Authority continues to make its efforts, but there appears to be a severe shortage of resources, with international agencies also strained to the limit. Given our antics, perhaps, compassion has run out and this hardly augurs well for the people, who are once more left helpless in the face of a national catastrophe, with little expectation from the current government .