Sindh govt’s Rs 12/person… eat your heart out Hatim Tai!


While the Sindh government recently released Rs 20 billion for the districts governments of Karachi and Hyderabad to please the ruling party’s allies, it has refrained from being generous to the rain-affected people of lower Sindh by announcing relief of only Rs 12 per person.
Over 300,000 citizens became homeless when heavy rains flooded lower Sindh and adversely affected around 2.5 million people in six districts, of which Badin, Mithi and Tando Muhammad Khan are the most-affected.
Shockingly, the provincial government has announced only Rs 30 million for the six districts, which means Rs 12 each for 2.5 million rain-affected people. If the Sindh government were to provide relief of Rs 30 million to the 300,000 homeless citizens only, each of them would receive Rs 100.
The provincial government claimed that even with all-out efforts, they could only accommodate only 53,000 homeless citizens, whereas around 260,000 people would still be living under the open sky.
On the one hand, the Sindh government released a huge sum of Rs 20 billion for Karachi and Hyderabad; and on the other hand, it released only Rs 30 million for 2.5 million rain-affected people whose lives are at high risk.
According to National Assembly Speaker Dr Fahmida Mirza, 98 percent land of Badin district was destroyed, whereas 80 percent mud houses were washed away and 14 percent regular houses were damaged.
Mirza said that she was not happy about Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s visit because he did not announce enough relief for the rain-affected people, especially those of Badin.
The situation at relief camps is also dire because a child among three people died due to diarrhoea in Badin, irking hundreds of people who staged a protest rally and stormed the office of the district coordination officer (DCO) on Wednesday, demanding food and water.
Over 1,400 people hailing from different affected areas joined the rally, condemned how poorly the government was treating them and raised their voice against unavailability of food, shelter and clean water.
“We have been living in an awful relief camp set up in a school building since August 10 with our entire families without food, water and other basic facilities,” said Makal Shah, a female activist of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum in Badin who was leading the rally.
Shah said that the district government authorities distributed ration of two days among them, which has already finished, but the authorities could not provide them with more ration. “Now they give us cooked food only once a day, putting the lives of minor children and the elderly at risk,” she added.
She said that whenever they approach the DCO and other officials, the authorities come up with more excuses for not helping the affected people. “Pakistan People’s Party’s leaders and legislators visit us daily, but they have nothing to offer to the displaced people,” she added.
The rally led by community activists Sajan Mallah, Mithan Mallah and others attracted a large number of civil society and affected communities. They were later assured by the district administration that their problems would be resolved soon, saying that President Asif Ali Zardari would be visiting the affected areas.
The recent rains flooded Badin, Mirpurkhas, Tharparkar and Thatta districts, affecting around a million people. Despite hectic efforts, the government could not plug up a single breach, where all the irrigation department officials set up camp two days ago to supervise the repair work.
Left Bank Outfall Drain and other water canals have inundated a wide area, displacing over a million people in Badin, Mirpurkhas and Thatta. According to the affectees, fishermen lost over 50 anchored boats, whereas the continuous flow of water damaged shelters and crops, washing away their fishing tools.
At least 200 fishing nets, which were harvested in drains and the coastal areas, were also washed away by the drain water. The unimaginable flooding due to rains has destroyed a wide area, displacing hundreds of families.
The government departments do not have the capacity to provide relief goods, food and potable water to the people living in camps. Health and hygiene conditions are deplorable, and it is feared that diseases might spread. According to volunteers, three people died in relief camps, whereas a fisherman’s body was recovered from a drain on Wednesday.