Thousands of flood-hit continue to suffer due to government apathy
KARACHI: A representative of a non-governmental organizations network has reminded the Sindh government of its commitments made to the people affected by the 2010 floods and 2011 rains, saying a large number of them continued to suffer due to official apathy.
Karamat Ali of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, a member of the Sindh People’s Commission for Disaster Prevention and Management — a network of NGOs — was speaking at a press conference organised by the SPCDPM at the Karachi Press Club on Thursday.
He said that a large number of the floods affected in the four provinces were waiting to be fully rehabilitated. He added that owing to climatic changes the pattern of monsoon rains had changed and almost all parts of the country faced threats of natural disasters, including water shortages and heavy flooding.
He said over 20 million people were affected by the 2010 floods, and an Asian Development Bank and World Bank study estimated the national losses to be around Rs855 billion ($10 billion). The damage suffered by Sindh was over Rs372 billion ($4.4 billion) owing to the Indus river embankment breaches in Tori in Kandhkot and Mulchand-Surjani in Thatta. He said over 414 people died in Sindh, 7.25 million people were displaced, 876,249 houses were damaged and 1.8 million people of the affected districts, including Jacobabad, Shikarpur, Kamber Shahdadkot, Larkana and Dadu, took shelter in 4,632 relief camps.
He said in 2011 the heavy monsoon rains caused floods in many Sindh districts, including Mirpurkhas, Umerkot, Badin, Tando Mohammad Khan, Tando Allahyar, Tharparkar, Sanghar and Benazirabad and many of the affected, and also the affected of the 2010 floods, who had left their homes, were still living in hundreds of tents and thatched huts off the Superhighway from Sabzi Mandi to Gulshan-i-Maymar.
Many of them did not return as they did not have anything in their respective villages and worked here as daily wage earners in industrial areas and as construction workers.
He said though the Sindh chief minister had announced at the time of 2010 floods that the IDPs, if they wished to live in the cities, would be given residential plots, but this had not been done. He said that over 10,000 schools were damaged in the 2010 floods in the country and
only a few had been restored.
Mohammad Ali Shah of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, also a member of the SPCDPM network, said Rs100,000 was announced by the government following the 2010 floods for each affected family but many were left out on the pretext that they did not have computerised national identity cards.
He said the government revised the criteria while disbursing the second instalment of Watan cards 2011 and only those were paid whose houses were damaged owing to which many people were deprived of the benefit.
He said Punjab had cut the number of beneficiaries to almost half in the payment under the second phase of the Citizens Damage Compensation Programme (CDCP), as in the first phase 609,788 persons received the Watan card grant of Rs20,000 each but the number was cut to 320,551 in the second phase.
Elahi Bakhsh of the Strengthening Participatory Organisation, also an SPCDPM member, said that many affected people belonging to the minority Hindu community (scheduled castes) not only faced discrimination during the distribution of goods in relief camps, but also during the distribution of cash compensation under the Watan cards. And when the issue was raised by the media, President Zardari sought a report from the Sindh government, but no such report had been made public by the government.
He said the country’s resource distribution order was still tilted heavily towards national security priorities, which impeded the country’s development. He said the state must demonstrate a serious commitment to the wellbeing of the people.
Altaf Mahesar of the Basic Development Foundation, also an SPCDPM member, was also present at the press conference.