Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah on Monday denied allegations of government’s negligence over Tharparkar district’s drought spell while quashing reports that more than 25 children have died in the area in October, a private news channel reported.
“Not even a single child or a person died of hunger in Thar, they died because of a disease,” said that CM in his address in the assembly.
” Name a single child who has died of hunger”, he said.
Shah claimed that his government has done ‘whatever they could’ for the famine-hit district and has appointed doctors in its remotest areas.
He added that his government has announced an aid package for Thar and a development scheme of Rs 2 billion in the district will be completed this year.
The 80-year-old CM further claimed that more than 80 water plants were functional in Thar while lamenting that it is not ‘an easy task’ to arrange for food for 1.6 million people.
He said that he critics should go to the area to witness the condition and announced that if the government’s negligence is proved, they would tender an apology.
During 2014, at least 400 children have reportedly died of malnutrition in Tharparkar, one of Pakistan’s poorest district spread over 20,000 square kilometres in Sindh and home to around 1.3 million people.
24 children are still under treatment whereas 2 of them have been declared critical. More than two dozen children have been referred to hospitals in Karachi and Hyderabad.
Rural settlers are forced to migrate towards urban areas and various districts of Sindh in the wake of scarcity of food and water and more than 600 villages have been vacated.
Water shortage has worsened in far flung areas of Chhachhro and Dhali and tube wells and filteration plants installed by Sindh government and Chhachhro administration are dysfunctional.
The federal and provincial governments have separately released millions of rupees for relief to famine stricken people; however, official reports revealed negligence on the part of government functionaries.
The situation prompted Sindh High Court to take a suo moto notice. However, Sindh government officials claimed that Thar drought issue was politicized, and denied that there is no such situation in the area.
Famine has been consistent in Tharpakar due to lack of rainfalls from past three years.