Govt asked to declare Katcha as calamity hit areas, provide relief to affected population

August 26, 2013 Off By Web Desk

Hyderabad:Civil society and humanitarian organizations’ working in Sindh, while discussing the current situation of the flood emergency in the River Indus and threats to the communities have demanded the government to declare the Katcha areas in the as calamity hit areas and announce a relief and compensation for the loss of lives and properties.

The meeting organized by Sindh Peoples Commission on Disaster Prevention and Management (SPCDPM) here on Monday expressed concern over the lack of response by the provincial and district disaster management authorities to the emergency and appealed to the government and the international humanitarian organizations to intervene, as the flood has caused displacement of more than 1.3 million people from the river catchment area, spreading over 2.2 million acres land, including 0.5 million forest land.

SPCDPM is the strong network of around 35 humanitarian organizations in the province, which was formed in 2011 and motivated the organizations and helped strengthen the coordination to avoid loss of lives and properties.

About 25 organisations shared their assessments they have collected through field visits in their target areas, affected by the flood. They also reviewed the current situation at embankments and measures taken by the government and warned the new four spells of rains and increasing the flood water in the River Indus may cause further displacement of the people.

Shujauddin Qureshi of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), Shahbaz Ansari of UNOCHA, Jamil Junejo of Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), Altaf Mahesar of Basic Development Foundation, Mir Mohammed Gurgaiz of Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO), Zahida Detho of Sindh Rural Partners Organisation, Suhail Siddiqi of PFF, Ishaq Manghrio, President Hyderabad Press Club and others participated in the meeting.

They observed that there is no role of the government’s lines departments in providing relief to the people; that could not provided relief goods to the displaced people, as thousands of people are living on embankments without basic facilities. They said the data being shared by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is not correct, as they do not have any information about the deaths of human and threats to the lives of people due to unavailability of health facilities all around.

The meeting in a resolution passed at the end asked the government institutions to utilise the budget as per their contingency plans they have already declared. The participants expressed the concern over increasing mosquitoes in flood affected areas and feared eruption of deadly diseases like Malaria and Dengue. They urged the health department to arrange mobile health facilities to help the displaced people, living ordinarily at the embankments and safer places without basic facilities, like shelter, safe food, water and sanitation. Especially, minor children are most vulnerable to face hardships due to lack of proper nutrition.

They also asked the humanitarian organisations to arrange and distribute mosquito nets for the people in flood-affected areas of the country.

Presently, the entire Katcha areas have been inundated and further water is coming through rivers from Indian side. Fears of hill torrents and the fresh monsoon rain spells are also haunting the already vulnerable communities.

Ishaq Mangrio, a renowned Sindhi folklore writer and president of Hyderabad Press Club gave a comprehensive presentation regarding the status of embankments and catchment areas of the river.

He said since Katcha area is a natural route of the river, which needs water for keep the natural grazing fields alive for the communities and their livestocks. A flood in Katcha areas is sometimes considered a blessing in disguise. However, he said due to political maneuvering huge infrastructures have been developed by the influential politicians, landlords, oil and gas exploring companies and others, which has hampered the natural flow of the water. The district administrations are reluctant to remove these obstacles because they are afraid of the politically powerful people.

In fact presently the river is flowing smoothly but the forthcoming rain spell in early September may further increase the water level and affect more people and may cause colossal loss to economy, he said.

Jamil Junejo, Manager Programmes PFF said it is the matter of lack of governance. The government is not prepared yet to cope with the situation. He asked civil society members to take up the matter, as there are fears of more loss.

Earlier, Shujauddin Qureshi of PILER shared objectives of the meeting and said it is the fourth consecutive year the Sindh province is experiencing flood emergencies. He said right from Kashmor to the tail end in Thatta districts, there is no adequate drainage system. Hence, the people have been vulnerable to face the disasters. He said despite decisions by the parliament the government has yet to remove encroachments within the natural waterways and the river bed. This, as always, is a major threat to the people living along the drains and river embankments.