PM visits Balochistan, declares Rs10 billion grant for the province

JAFFARABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif talking to media after interacting with flood victims, in Village Haji Allah Dino, in Jaffarabad District, Sunday. - PID photo

JAFFARABAD: Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday announced a grant of Rs10 billion for Balochistan province to cope with the situation and assist the flood victims in the aftermath of recent heavy rainfall and floods.
Speaking to media after visiting the flood-affected areas including Haji Allah Dino village, the prime minister said that he had never witnessed in his lifetime such massive destruction wrecked by unprecedented floods and rainfalls across the country.
He said the impacts of natural calamities could not be overcome with mere raising of slogans, making of statements and hurling of allegations.
He stressed that they would have to work hard, and shed sweat and blood to overcome the flood situation in the country, adding that different countries had devised technical mechanisms by making investments to overcome the natural catastrophes.
The prime minister regretted that false statements by certain political figures could not mislead the nation. “I will speak the truth. For the last 73 years, Pakistan could not stand on its feet,” he regretted.
The prime minister also expressed gratitude to the Presidents of the United Arab Emirates and Turkey for expressing their grief over loss of lives in Pakistan and their concerns over the distressed Pakistanis who were facing ordeals due to floods.
He said that they were thankful to the friendly countries who were extending flood relief and assistance to the flood victims, adding two planeloads of relief assistance from Turkey would land in Karachi while another from the UAE would arrive Islamabad.
“We are grateful to the friendly countries for their support and solidarity. The UK government and other countries have announced their support in this hour of distress for which we express our thankfulness,” he added.
The prime minister also appealed to the wealthy people of the country to support the millions affected people with their generous donations who had been in dire need of immediate relief and assistance.
He said in the past, the people had supported the calamity hit populace, adding that they were receiving donations in the PM Relief Fund, and cited a donation of worth Rs45 million by a group while another significant contribution by an individual.
Acting Governor Balochistan Mir Jan Muhammad Jamali, Chief Minister Abdul Quddus Bizenjo and Chief Secretary Abdul Aziz Aqeeli, NDMA and PDMA authorities were also accompanied the PM.
The prime minister said during his aerial view, he had witnessed huge chunks of land inundated by the flood water including Kachi, and Sobatpur, and likened the situation to an overflowing ocean. Flood water had submerged Rajanpur, Rahimyar Khan and Ghotki areas.
He said during 2010, Pakistan faced a huge deluge, but it was restricted to Sindh river, but the recent devastation had been widespread, Sindh and Balochistan provinces were badly battered.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the heavy downpours had led to swollen rivers and water channels in Swat and Kalam, sweeping away hotels and homes within the winks of eyes, he said, adding hundreds of people lost their lives, crops were damaged while the stagnant water would create problems.
“In my political and personal life, I had never witnessed such widespread destruction caused by floods, as scores of villages were effaced, hundreds of lives were lost and millions of homes swept away,” he expressed his grief.
The prime minister said the federal government was providing Rs25,000 to each flood affected family out of allocated grant of Rs38 billion through the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), so that the deserving were not deprived of the assistance package.
In Sindh, he said, he had already announced a grant of Rs15 billion. The provincial chief ministers and their teams in assistance with the relevant departments had been making untiring efforts day and night, the prime minister said.
The prime minister also appreciated Balochistan chief minister and his team for the rescue and relief activities as the camps for the affectees were set up and their needs had been catered to.
He stressed upon making of safe drinking water arrangements and informed that he had already directed the federal minister of energy to supervise restoration of suspended power supply in the affected areas.
The prime minister said about 50,000 stranded people, trapped in floods, had been rescued through the assistance provided by the Pakistan army and Navy helicopters.
He further informed that on Monday, they would be holding a meeting in Islamabad to review the situation and take further decisions.
Earlier, the prime minister was given a detailed briefing by Balochistan chief secretary who apprised that 20 districts in the provinces were badly affected including Killa Saifullah and Killa Abdullah and about 1.3 million population braced the wort situation.
He said a total of 65,000 houses were completed destroyed whereas Quetta-Sukkkur road link had been cut off due to collapse of bridges. A total of 25 small dams in the province were breached and 78 others had developed cracks.
A total of 450 solar tube wells were damaged while millions of acres of agriculture land had been affected. Cash assistance through BISP was generated besides, arrangements were made to provide food stuff to more than 1 million people, it was added.
The prime minister also met and interacted with the flood victims.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will visit flood-hit Charsadda district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province today.
PM Shehbaz Sharif will visit the flood-hit areas and announce a special package for the affected families of Charsadda.
The irrigation department said that there was no flood threat to Charsadda. 32,000 cusecs of water was passing at the locality of the Manda Headworks. According to the irrigation department, maximum 45,000 cusecs of water will pass from the Manda Headworks Sunday, having the
capacity of 200,000 cusecs.
61,000 cusecs of water was passing through the Khayali Bridge at Swat River, having the capacity of 100,000 cusecs of water. The department said that people should not pay attention to the rumours regarding the flooding anymore.
Earlier in the day, PM Shehbaz Sharif visited flood-hit areas of the Balochistan province and announced Rs10 billion for the provincial government to assist flood victims.
“I am announcing to handover Rs10 billion to [Chief Minister Balochistan Abdul Quddus] Bizenjo sahib,” the prime minister said while being flanked by the chief minister, federal minister Shahzain Bugti and others during his visit to flood-hit areas in the province.
The prime minister said that floods have wreaked havoc nationwide, especially in Sindh and Balochistan and appealed to philanthropists to donate to the government for arranging food and shelter for the affectees.
“People have so far donated generously. Last night, a man donated Rs60 million and asked against mentioning his name while a group of businessmen donated Rs450 million which will also be deposited in the account of the PM relief fund,” Shehbaz Sharif said.
“I have not seen this devastation from floods before and currently more than 1,000 people have died while thousands others are injured,” he said.
While sharing details of the relief provided to the affectees, the prime minister said that a total of Rs38 billion will be distributed across Pakistan within a week. “Each victim will receive Rs25,000 through the BISP account,” he said.
He further highlighted the rescue work being carried out by armed forces, saying as many as 50,000 people are shifted to safe locations.
“The air force chief told me that dozens of helicopters are in the field to rescue the victims,” the prime minister narrated. “We will be holding a meeting tomorrow to further expand the scope of relief activities.” – APP, NNI