2.3 mln hectare agri land affected by flood; Senate told

Senate was informed Thursday that around 2.3 million hectare agricultural land was badly affected by recent devastating flood.

“It is 21% of the total agricultural land and a big loss to national kitty in terms of revenue and exports,” said Advisor to the Prime Minister Nawabzada Ghazanfar Gul, winding up debate on situation arising of the flood.

He said 1.9 million houses were destroyed by flood with it affecting an overall 100,000 square kilometer area. Moreover, 12,000 schools, 27810 kilometers roads, 1071 bridges have been affected by flood and 1.2 million livestock were lost.

“It is a national calamity and demands from everybody to join hands with the government in relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation activities,” Gul said.

He said the calamity was many times severe than Tsunami, Katrina, Kashmir earthquake, Haiti earthquake and Myanmar calamity. In those calamities only 66,000 square kilometer land and total 11.8 million people were affected.

“But, in recent floods more than 100,000 square kilometer land was affected,” he said, adding, though 1800 people died in floods and 2994 injured but the toll of 20 million people who suffered in flood is much higher than calamities in other countries.

The Advisor rejected the criticism of the government and said, any government anywhere in the world could have not been able to cope with such a situation.

“We are here only since two and a half years but those who ruled the country for longer period must be knowing the challenges of being in power,” Gul said.

Refuting also the claims of the members that masses and donors do not have confidence in the government, he said, if the government is in place, it means people have confidence in it.

“Let us not go by hypothesis and wrong assessments. If anybody desires, I can arrange a briefing for them by Chairman NDMA,” he said and mentioned that Rs five billion were deposited in the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.

He said Army is a national and professional institution and is helping the federal government in relief activities. “But, where are those affluent who set up industries at the cost of national kitty and get their loans written off. should they not come to fore also for relief of affectees.”

He advocated levying new tax for flood relief and said, such taxes are only meant for taking money from the rich and giving it to the poor.

Gul said it is a tragedy that in our country personalities are more important than the state. “And when the persons are more important and states are weak, then these powerful persons become a threat for existence of the state.”

He reiterated that present situation demanded unity and collective efforts to meet needs of affected brethren. “This is time to provide leadership and not to play politics. This is time to emerge as a strong nation out of this calamity.”

He also urged the political forces to rise above petty difference and sacrifice for the 20 million calamities hit nationals.

The House was then adjourned to meet again Friday morning at 1000 hours.