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September 25, 2020

Murad slams Centre’s indifference to rain calamity in Sindh

National

September 25, 2020

KARACHI: Strongly criticising the federal government for what he termed as its “lukewarm attitude towards the rain-affected people of the province,” Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said none of their ministers bothered to visit the calamity-hit areas and support the people.

Despite the massive damage throughout the province due to unprecedented rains, the federal government has so far released only Rs70 billion against the provincial share of Rs126 billion, leaving a shortfall of Rs56 billion, which is way below the needs of the provincial government to rehabilitate the rain-hit people and reconstruct the damage to the infrastructure.

The CM was addressing a press conference at the CM House on Thursday. He was flanked by provincial ministers, Makhdoom Mahboob, Saeed Ghani, Nasir Hussain Shah, Faraz Dero and Law Minister Murtaza Wahab.

Murad Ali Shah said that the unprecedented heavy downpour in August caused huge destruction in Karachi, Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas divisions.

He said Karachi suffered due to encroachment of storm drains, old and below capacity sewerage system. The chief minister said buildings were constructed along the storm water drains and the builders were given lease to do so and cited Rashid Minhas Road where shops are constructed on both the embankments of the Nullas. He also mentioned North Nazimabad and Hyderi, were 2,000 square yards’ bungalows have been replaced by high rises and no one took to task those who caused the mess.

The chief minister said we are planning to construct sewerage systems of Kharadar, KDA Chowrangi, Surjani Town, particularly of Yousuf Goth, and in the rural areas of Malir. He said the sewerage system in district Central would also be redesigned as the flow of the sewage is retarded by the construction of Green Line infrastructure inside the storm drains. Similarly, the sewerage system of Surjani Town and Malir needs to be redone, he said.

Talking about collapse of illegally-constructued residential buildings almost every other day, the chief minister said he has tasked the Local Government Minister Syed Nasir Shah to act against illegal buildings and get the dangerous ones vacated.

Besides Karachi, Shah said 20 districts of the province were massively hit by heavy rains and were declared calamity-hit areas. Giving details of human and property losses, Shah said that 136 people died, 86 were injured, 15,233 villages inundated and 2,488,616 people were badly affected. He said over one million acres of land with standing crops was washed away, 77,343 houses were damaged and 45,961 cattle perished. “This is a very serious situation and our people are undergoing pain and agony,” he said.

Shah said that over Rs67 billion were required to rehabilitate the affected people so that they could return to normal life. The province has limited resources and cannot spare the amount on its own and has been forced to start a media campaign to seek the support of philanthropists.

“The reconstruction and repair of the damaged infrastructure, including roads, schools and hospital buildings would be a separate task,” the chief minister deplored. The problem has been compounded as the federal government has provided only 70 billion against the provincial share of Rs126 billion, creating a shortfall of Rs56 billion.

Murad Ali Shah said that he had repeatedly informed the prime minister about the crisis but nothing has been given to us by the federal government for the support and relief of the affected people.

Talking about the destruction of standing crops, Murad Ali Shah said he did not think that we will be able to meet the targets of cotton and other crops production during this Kharif season and added the federal government should review its targets and come over to support of the growers by declaring an agricultural emergency.