Thursday, August 19, 2010

Floods kill 1,475; destroy 970520 houses in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira said on Wednesday that credibility of the present democratic government was not an issue as several countries and international institutions have already donated substantial amounts for the flood victims.

While addressing a press conference to give an update about the flood rescue and relief operation here,he said that United States,United Kingdom,Saudi Arabia,United Nations, and several other countries and institutions have donated for flood victims and some other friendly countries were ready to do so.

“The impression being given by certain elements that the credibility of the government was a hurdle in international aid for flood affected people was totally baseless”, he said.
Citing example of IDPs of Swat,Malakand and FATA,he said that despite the doubts of certain elements the government successfully rehabilitated them within three months time.He said that the government had registered the Swat IDPs through a smart card issued by NADRA and the whole world gave funds for them with no complaints of misappropriation.

He said that the world has acknowledged this as the success story of the present democratic regime.Similarly,he added that through Benazir Income Support Programme the government has distributed Rs 1.25 billion among the poorest of the poor. He disclosed that many countries of the world were contemplating to replicate this model to fight poverty,which was not less then a compliment for us.

He made it clear that this time too, a transparent system of registration would be followed and the government would be responsible for every penny spent.

To a question,he said that main system of monsoon has passed and the rivers are coming back to their normal flow position.He hoped that soon the flood waters would recede and the relief activities would get further momentum and the people would be able to return home.

Kaira said that 50,000 tents are being imported and a ban has been imposed on their export as part of the efforts to meet needs of the people of flood-ravaged areas of the country.

He acknowledged that there was dire need of tents for the calamity-affected people and said the Federal and Provincial Governments had called a meeting of the manufacturing organisations to overcome the problem. 

Kaira said the estimates of losses and damage are preliminary and the real situation would become clear when survey is carried out. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has conveyed to the provinces the parameters of the proposed survey so as to make it comprehensive and all-encompassing.

The minister said the extent of damage was beyond imagination and the entire nation will have to be mobilized to meet the challenge.

He said that 1,475 persons have been killed, 2052 injured and 970,520 houses either destroyed or damaged due to floods. The disaster has also destroyed or affected the infrastructure, agriculture, livestock and industry.

The Minister said that 73 helicopters and 912 boats have been deployed to rescue the marooned people and to transport relief goods to the calamity-hit areas. He said so far 7,13,165 persons have been rescued.

He said that 178,635 blankets,153,166 tents and 71,719 tarpals have been distributed among the victims.

He informed the media that the Prime Minister has directed the NHA to expedite work for opening of the closed roads for traffic. 

The minister said that damage caused to National Highway Network in recent floods so far is estimated at more than Rs. 6 billion which can further escalate.

He said Great Trunk Road (N-5),is open for traffic throughout the country even Kot Sabzal- Khairpur Section where flood water is overflowing the road.

Kaira said that National Highway Authority (NHA) was striving to repair and restore the damaged portions of roads and bridges on short term measures so that rescue and relief operation could be expedited.

The minister said that all motorways are open for traffic,while several temporary bridges have been set up for opening of various roads bridges in Khyber Pukhtunkhaw and Gilgit Baltistan.

He informed the media that Pakistan Army,Frontier Works Organization and some other institutions were helping the NHA in repair of the roads.

He said that D.G.Khan-Muzaffargarh Road has been opened for traffic,while Sukkur-Jacobabad-Sibi-Quetta Highway is still not open for traffic and water was flowing at some places.He said that Nowshehra-Chitral road would be opened for traffic within few days.

About health sector,the minister said that plan for vaccination of 80,000 children is in place for prevention of water-borne diseases.

To a question,he said that medicines for 3 million people have been dispatched while medicines for 4 million more persons have been procured which would be handed over within next few days.

He said that doctors of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences have taken over a hospital in Charsadda to treat the patients. Moreover,he said,there was a proposal to hand over one district each to various teaching colleges of medicines and appoint jobless doctors in the flood-hit areas.

The minister said that fighting post-floods diseases was a gigantic task and the government was taking all possible steps in this regard.

He appealed to the media to play its role in creating awareness among the victims of flood about use of clean drinking water.He also appealed to the media that besides criticizing the government performance,which was its right,it should also highlight the performance of various government agencies in rescue and relief operation.

“Only by telecasting the footage of fights over food in the IDPs camps,it should also highlight the positive side.There is need to give hope to the people, as marketing misery would only add to despondency”,said the minister.

He said that several government institutions were working day and night and there was no harm if some footage of their hard work was shown to the viewers.

Kaira said that there was no shortage of resources and the Federal Government was providing all required funds for purchase of medicines.The provinces were also using their resources to mitigate the sufferings of the flood-hit people. 

To a question the Minister disagreed with the impression flood water direction has been diverted to protect the land of some ministers.

He said urged the media and political parties not to enter in blame game and focus on the relief work as people need help.

He said Disaster Management Commission meeting has been convened to devise strategy to meet the challenge presently being faced by the nation.The Minister said that all the Chief Ministers would participate and present their point of view in the meeting.

About the commission proposed by the Mian Nawaz Sharif he said the government has not drooped the idea but it would have to take all the provinces on board.

He further informed that medical teams from Turkey, Indonesia, Afghanistan Jordan have arrived and dispatched to different areas to provide medical assistance to flood affectees.
Replying to a question he said under the 18th Amendment, most of the resources have been transferred to provinces.

Kaira said that federal government was also providing finances to National High Authority and WAPDA for repair of damaged roads and grid stations in the flood-hit areas.

Source: TheNews

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