Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif visits a relief camp near Quetta during the Balochistan visit to oversee rescue efforts. -Courtesy PM Office

Shahbaz Sharif orders action over negligence in Balochistan relief efforts

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Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif visits a relief camp near Quetta during the Balochistan visit to oversee rescue efforts. -Courtesy PM Office

QUETTA: Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Monday ordered strict action against the provincial administration over negligence in ensuring the availability of food and drinking water at a tent city set up to accommodate the flood-affected people.

The prime minister issued the directive during his visit to the tent city in the Khusnob area of Qila Saifullah district, saying that negligence over relief and rescue operations would not be tolerated.

Talking to journalists, PM Sharif expressed regret over the plight of displaced persons who faced unavailability of edible items at relief camps and were left with no other option but to travel back to their homes to get food.

He said loopholes had been identified regarding the lack of a record-keeping system at camps and stressed addressing the issue at the earliest.

He expressed grief over the death of eight children at the relief camps and extended condolences to their families over their loss.

The prime minister also directed the authorities concerned to ensure the disbursement of compensation money to the flood-affected people of Balochistan within 24 hours.

He said residents of partially or completely damaged houses would be given similar compensation of Rs 500,000.

He mentioned that torrential rains led to heavy loss of lives and infrastructure in Balochistan, for which the federal government was determined to extend every possible assistance to the provincial government.

He asked the National Disaster and Management Authority (NDMA) and Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) to pace up relief and rescue operations to best facilitate the victims and conduct a joint survey of damaged houses and crops.

The damage

Meanwhile, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), Balochistan, said that among the 136 deceased, 56 were men, 47 children, and 33 women, while 70 people have been injured.

The PDMA’s report showed that the rains damaged 13,535 houses and completely destroyed 3,406 homes, and the heavy downpour also inflicted damage to 16 bridges and 640 kilometres of roads.

Over 20,000 cattle have been killed in the flash floods, eight dam embankments have been damaged, and crops on 198,000-acre land have been destroyed.

‘Rescue takes time’

Earlier, in conversation with Geo News, Balochistan Government Spokesperson Farah Azeem Shah said that storms also hit the United States, and the province is no exception, adding that “rescue operations take time”.

The spokesperson said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has visited Balochistan and the provincial government is in contact with the Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa as the authorities seek to provide relief to the people.

In the coming months, Shah said the government will devise a long-term plan for dealing with rains. “We are rallying the non-government organisations (NGOs) and will not abandon the people.”

She added that the rescue operations have been completed to a large extent, while relief operations are underway. The spokesperson claimed that till the rescue and relief operations are underway, government officials’ salaries will be deposited to the relief fund.

Shah also said that the Karachi-Quetta road — which was heavily damaged due to the heavy rains — has finally been restored for traffic.

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