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October 29, 2015

No politics over natural disasters: PM

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October 29, 2015

PESHAWAR/CHITRAL/ISLAMABAD: Unveiling a relief package for the affected people of the recent earthquake, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Wednesday the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)-led government did not believe in playing politics over a natural disaster.
During his whirlwind visit of the earthquake-affected areas, the prime minister unveiled a relief package for the quake victims of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Fata and Gilgit Baltistan. He said Rs600,000 each will be given to the heirs of the dead, Rs100,000 to the injured and those who were rendered disabled would get Rs200,000. He said the government would pay an amount of Rs200,000 for houses that have been fully destroyed and Rs100,000 for partially damaged houses. The distribution of compensation money will start on Monday and will be completed within four days. He said the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments will pay an equal share in the compensation package.
The prime minister said according to his initial information, so far 208 deaths have been reported from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 29 from Fata, while around 1,000 people were injured. He reminded the officials that while reporting the losses, the figures must be accurate. He said the federal government would pay the entire compensation amount for victims in Fata, and if the provincial government wished it could also contribute.
Nawaz said he would stand shoulder as long as each and every affected person is rehabilitated from the impact of the calamity.
The prime minister was briefed about the losses in KP in Governor House Peshawar and later he visited Chitral to review the situation on spot. Talking to media in Peshawar, he said that the federal government agreed for the package in close consultation with the provincial government as both the governments will have a share of 50 percent. To a question, he said that the federal and provincial governments are working in close coordination, while rising above the political divide or

any differences. He said politics should not be done on earthquake.
“The days of division on party basis are over, now we all stand united at a critical juncture, and are working selflessly to serve the masses, which are facing a difficult time.” He said all steps would be taken to ensure that the real victims get the compensation amount that would be verified by a three-member committee, comprising representatives of the administration, local representative and one from the Pakistan Army. He said the verification process will take four days and cheques would be distributed from Monday, November 02, and completed in all areas by Thursday.
Nawaz said that relief and rehabilitation work is now picking pace, following the search and rescue phase. He said that he is in constant touch with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). He said efforts are being made to reach out to the people despite the inaccessible location of affected areas and distances involved. The prime minister, who visited Shangla a day earlier, recalled the weather has turned harsh over the past few days and it was vital that the rehabilitation work is completed in the shortest possible time.
The Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) officials briefed the prime minister about the loss of life and the damage caused to the property in KP and Fata.Governor Sardar Mehtab Ahmad Khan, Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak, Corps Commander Lt Gen Hidayatur Rehman and other high-ranking officials attended the meeting.
The chief secretary KP apprised the prime minister that 222 persons lost their lives and 1,697 were injured in the province, while 8,453 houses were damaged. He was told that the PDMA in coordination with NDMA is carrying out relief work in the affected areas. The premier was updated that relief goods had been sent to Shangla, Upper and Lower Dir, Torghr, Swat, Malakand and Buner. One thousand food packets have been sent to Chitral besides distribution of 2,000 tents, 2,000 blankets and 2,000 mats
The prime minister appreciated Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif and Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak for their efforts to mitigate the sufferings of the quake affected people.
Addressing a meeting in quake affected Chitral, the prime minister said some elements in the past tried to play with the sentiments of Chitralis but “we are here to help people”.Nawaz directed the NDMA to ensure provision of quality blankets and other necessary items to the affected families to protect them from severe cold.
The prime minister announced opening of Lowari Tunnel by the end of 2016. “Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak would inaugurate the tunnel upon completion,” the prime minister said.He added that Chitral town and adjoining areas would be provided 30 megawatts electricity from the Golen Gol Hydel project to end loadshedding in the town.
The prime minister also announced construction of Chitral-Shandur, Chitral-Garum Chashma and Chitral-Bamboret roads. He said that successive governments compromised the development of the mountainous district, which resulted in the suffering of the people. He said that Lowari Tunnel project should have been completed earlier.
The residents of Jaghor village in Chitral staged protest as the prime minister’s visit to the area was cancelled.Though both the federal and provincial governments have announced the relief and rescue operations, there were reports that the affected people are not satisfied with these efforts.
Reports coming in from the severely affected Malakand division said that a large number of the affected peoples, particularly in the mountainous areas, were yet to receive any relief. Many areas are yet to be accessed and the affected families are either staying with relatives or neighbours’ houses or are spending the cold nights under the open sky.
In Lower Dir, the death toll has reached 24 while 220 people have been injured. The tremor destroyed 25 houses and partially damaged another 318 in the district. It is feared that the damage could be higher as many mountainous areas in the district are yet to be accessed.
Though the Pakistan Army, the district administration and some non-governmental organisations, including Al-Khidmat Foundation and Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation, are providing relief to the people in the quake-hit areas, the relief workers have yet to reach Maidan and Samarbagh, the two worst affected parts of the Lower Dir district. Reports suggested that 114 educational institutions including 80 girls’ schools were damaged in the earthquake in Lower Dir. The affected people complained that the relief process was too slow.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister of Nepal, KP Sharma Oli made a telephone call to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in London, immediately after the earthquake, said a statement of the Foreign Office on Wednesday. He expressed sympathy over the natural calamity and offered all possible assistance.

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