Qaim says media blew Thar issue out of proportion
MITHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has said that media has blown the issue of Thar drought and large-scale migration triggered by it out of proportions although it is a well known fact a large number of Tharis migrate to other areas to work as farm hands during the wheat harvest season.
The chief minister who arrived here on Sunday to assess the situation said at a press conference that he admitted shortcomings on part of the government. An investigation was under way which would follow stern action against the elements responsible for creating humanitarian crisis in the arid region, he said.
He said that Rs200,000 each would be given to the heirs of a deceased child and actual figure of children’s deaths would be provided to media. Besides supplying food, it was also responsibility of the government to provide healthcare, hence 14 mobile dispensaries were already working in Thar, two trucks of medicines had been made available and teams of doctors and paramedics had been despatched to every nook and cranny of the remote region, he said.
Mr Shah said that quantity of relief wheat had been raised from 25 kg to 50 kg per family, 29 basic health units had been set up at union council level. To ensure transparency in the distribution of wheat, a committee consisting of a member each of National and provincial assemblies, media persons and notables would be constituted, he said.
Later, the chief minister visited Mithi civil hospital and enquired after patients’ health.
Five children die
Despite government’s tall claims, five malnourished children died at the civil hospital Umerkot on Sunday as the government had so far failed to launch a relief operation in the area. Migration of famished population continued unabated while 10 more malnourished children reported at the hospitals.
According to details, Thari families continued migration from Kaplore, Lala Bah, Sonhari, Kacholi, Khalrai Thar, Behrai Thar, Kharoro Thar, Umerkot Thar, Vehro Thar, Diat Bah, Janhero Thar, Sabhri Thar, Sadoori Thar, Sinhoi Thar, Tar Samoon, Nabisar Thar, Rajar Thar, Rajari Thar, Dinore, Mokhal Bah, Doodhar, Shekhro, Laplo, Chhore and Khokhrapar to irrigated areas of Umerkot, Mirpurkhas, Sanghar, Badin and other districts in search of food and water for their families and fodder for cattle.
En route to urban areas the famished families had started selling their livestock at pathetically low prices to feed their starving families.
PTI’s MNA Lal Malhi has urged the government and relief commissioner to declare 25 Dehs of the district calamity hit and start relief activities there. During past 12 hours five malnourished children had died but the hospital administration had hidden it from media. The number of deaths could be alarming over the past week in government as well as private hospitals, he feared.
According to officials of district administration, a team led by additional deputy commissioner, district health officer along revenue and livestock officials has visited a number of villages to ascertain the situation.
Call for uplift of Thar
The Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network (PDSN) expressed deep concern on reported deaths of children in Thar hospitals over the past three months due to severe malnutrition among mothers and children.
In a statement issued here on Sunday, the PSDN steering committee members Dr Sono Khangharani, Malji Rathor and Zulfiqar Shah urged the government to provide relief goods as well as medical services to people on a war footing.
The statement said that over half of the population of Thar was lower caste Dalit minority. “We have no doubt that a large number of the dead children will be from the scheduled castes populations,” said Zulfiqar Shah, secretary of PDSN.
The PSDN demanded that instead of spending billions of rupees on the publicity of relief measures, the government should chalk out a long term socio-economic development programme for the Thar, focusing on marginalised communities.
Cell set up at CM House
Tharparkar Relief and Rehabilitation Cell has been set up at CM House to look after performance of the government’s relief work and submit a report to the CM.
Thar cell can be contacted on 021-99202051-4, 99202065, 99207568, 0800919-15 and on fax Nos 021-99202007, 99202008, said a handout.
The Sindh Livestock and Fisheries department has also set up a cell at the Directorate of Animal Husbandry at Shahbaz Building in Hyderabad to deal with animal diseases in Thar. Dr Jameel Ahmed Sheikh is head of the cell who he can be reached at 0306-826430 and 022-9200966, said an official handout.
Meanwhile, Provincial Coordinator for Human Rights Nadia Gabol has said that trucks of ration and medicines along with a team of specialist doctors have been sent to Thar. In any emergency complaints can be registered at human rights cell on 0800-000-111.—APP
Medical teams sent to Thar
Karachi: Sindh Provincial Branch of Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has started relief operation in Thar. Red Crescent has started work on a need assessment survey after dispatching food parcels for 1000 families and deploying a mobile health unit in drought affected areas.
Health Secretary Sindh Iqbal Durrani said a team of 15 doctors headed by Dr Prof Salma Sheikh, had been formed to cope with the situation.
Meanwhile, Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) dispatched a medical relief team to district Thar to provide immediate medical relief to the affected population of the area.