SOHBATPUR: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday directed the authorities concerned to ensure the availability of drinking water and life-saving medicines on priority in Sohbatpur’s area of Balochistan, severely damaged by floods.
The prime minister also announced a two-month waiver of water utility charges for the consumers residing in flood-affected areas all over the country.
Addressing the flood-affected people during his visit to Balochistan’s Sohbatpur, he said the government would not charge the consumers in the flood-hit areas for the bills of August and September.
PM Sharif, who arrived in the severely damaged city of Sohbatpur due to floods, reviewed the ongoing relief efforts and interacted with the locals to get their feedback.
The prime minister said the waiver on water utility charges was aimed at facilitating the people heavily burdened by the challenges in the wake of the flood.
He also announced continuation of the government’s facility in September to waive off Fuel Adjustment Charges for electricity consumers across the country on usage up to 300 units.
He said the facility would be extended beyond the flood-relief areas, benefitting around 210 million consumers in the country.
Sharif said a mechanism would be established to revive the crops of wheat and cotton in the flood-affected areas.
In view of the scarcity of drinking water in Sohbatpur, he said, two trucks carrying bottled water would reach in the area by tonight while 10 tonnes of the commodity would be available in the next two days.
He mentioned that the coalition government along with the provincial government was making utmost efforts to provide relief to the people in flood-hit areas.
Serving the masses, he said, was the noblest deed instead of indulging in politicking as done by some leaders even in the grave situation amid floods.
Earlier, the Chief Secretary Balochistan briefed the prime minister about the post-flood situation and the ongoing relief activities.
It was highlighted that the drainage of water from Sohbatpur and Dera Allah Yar would take 15 and 20 days, respectively. In four days, a 100 feet channel will be made for drinking water.
The Chief Secretary said work on 230 breaches on water canals was underway and the delay in availability of drinking water was due to the closure of inundated roads.
He mentioned that fumigation and cleaning of nullahs was in progress, while as a long-term project, a GPS-based flood alert mechanism would be made.
Other measures include two mobile maternity units, availability of life-saving and anti-venom medicines, and the arrangement of over two million mosquito nets.
The prime minister instructed the Chief Secretary to ensure the availability of drinking water and medicine on priority for the affected people.
He directed to pace up the drainage of stagnant water and complete the activity in 10 days instead of the expected fortnight.
He called for deployment of additional human resources and machinery to amplify work in view of the sufferings faced by the people.
The prime minister also emphasized necessary steps to avert the spread of water-borne and communicable diseases.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday directed immediate construction of a model school equipped with all necessary facilities for the students in Balochistan’s flood-hit Sohbatpur.
During his visit to a makeshift school set up at the relief camp for flood-affected people, the prime minister gave the instruction for the model school to prevent loss of education for students, whose schools had swept away by flash floods.
PM Sharif stressed that the model school must include facilities including best teaching staff, ventilated classrooms, toilets and ensure provision of books, bags and uniforms to the students.
During his interaction with the students, he encouraged them to keep their morale high during challenging times.
The prime minister also had a photograph with the group of young schoolchildren.
During his visit to the relief camp, the prime minister assured the flood-affected families at the relief camp that the government would provide them every possible facility during the difficult situation in the wake of floods.
He appreciated the doctors and medical practitioners for rendering their selfless services for the treatment of flood-affected patients.
Meanwhile, Chairman of Habib Bank Limited and Director of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development Sultan Ali Allana called on Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday.
The prime minister conveyed his respects to Prince Raheem Aga Khan and expressed his gratitude for the generous contribution to the flood relief efforts in Pakistan.
During the meeting, they discussed the areas of mutual interest including economic situation in the country and areas of development.
The prime minister appreciated the role of HBL and other Aga Khan Development Network institutions in Pakistan.
On September 4, Prince Raheem Aga Khan telephoned the prime minister and announced donation of $10 million for the flood affected people of Pakistan.
Federal Minister for Defence Khawaja Muhamad Asif also attended the meeting.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday urged the nation, particularly the influential and affluent classes to play their due role to change the nation’s fate through firm resolve and solid actions.
“Where does Pakistan stand today despite passage of 75 years? This is a pinching question… We are moving in a circle all the time… This is now or never,” the prime minister said addressing the Lawyers Convention here.
He said the nation wanted to know as why the Quaid’s dreams remained fulfilled as millions of the people were faced with poverty.
He said unfortunately, even the smaller nations as well as the neighboring countries had achieved immense progress leaving Pakistan behind.
Referring to the massive destruction caused by the floods, the prime minister said hundreds of thousand of the flood-stricken people were about to brave the upcoming harsh cold winters and 0.6 million pregnant women were also compelled to stay at tents.
Shehbaz Sharif said the country was faced with climate-induced destruction.
He told the lawyers community that as the coalition government was formed, the country was at verge of the economic default. However, owing to its untiring efforts, the government had averted the economic default and controlled the economic instability, though the inflation was “at its peak.”
He told the gathering that an agreement with the IMF was signed but violated in the past risking the whole Program.
Shehbaz Sharif said the government was strategizing to cope with the swelling needs of the gas, considering the upcoming winter season. He said the previous government failed to sign a gas purchase agreement when it was available at 3 cents per MMBTU comparing current 40 cents per MMBTU.
He said the flood water was still causing destruction in Balochistan, leading to the collapse of houses and washing away of crops. He said even the availability of clean drinking water was a challenge for the flood-affected people.
He said the country was rich with immense resources like Sendak and Reko Diq with capable human resource like farmers, engineers and doctors. — APP