President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday directed that highest priority be given to saving human lives in the flood affected areas by ensuring that food and safe drinking water is continually supplied without interruption to the victims till they have been rehabilitated and are able to stand on their feet.
No excuse will be tolerated for any slackness in prompt supply of food and water to the victims and the administration will be held responsible, he said.
The President gave these directions during a briefing on Monday on flood situation in Sindh at Bilawal House Karachi.
The briefing was attended by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Speaker National Assemly Dr. Fehmida Mirza, Federal Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf MNA, Nazar Mohammad Gondal MNA, provincial ministers Pir Mazhar-ul- Haq, Murad Ali Shah, Agha Siraj Durrani, Nadir Ali Magsi, Sharjeel Inam Memon, Ms Sassui Palejo, MD Bait-ul- Mal Zamurad Khan and senior federal and provincial government officers.
Briefing the media spokesperson to the President, Farhatullah Babar said that the President also directed that senior government officials should be nominated in each affected district to supervise and coordinate distribution of the relief and rehabilitation aid received from the government, international agencies and local and foreign NGOs and philanthropists.
Accordingly, 15 senior officers of the provincial government were designated today for the most affected districts in Sindh for this purpose, he said.
The President said that these officers will be personally responsible to ensure smooth operation of rescue, relief and rehabilitation work in the respective districts assigned to them.
A Special Control Room was also set up in Bilawal House on Monday to what the President said “Monitor the monitors’ of relief activities,” he said.
The President’s spokesperson said the Special Control Room is directly connected to all the DCOs and the President will be able to hold video conferences with provincial government officials and DCO and monitor the progress at any time. “I will be monitoring the monitors,” the President remarked.
Farhatullah Babar said that the President had given directions for setting up of the special control room in Bilawal House during his visit to the United Kingdom and the facility had already been put in place.
He said the President planned to stay in Karachi for some days to monitor the flood relief measures.
Stressing the need for saving lives by ensuring food and water availability, the President said that if needed, helicopters and boats may be leased from other countries for this purpose.
The President said that the next priority should be given to draining out the stagnant rain water whether by pumping or gravity flow and by connecting it with the existing drainage system whichever is feasible.
He called for enhancing the discharge capacity of existing drains and removing obstructions by deploying special machinery already available with the different departments.
The President said that all the stakeholders, local representatives, political leaders and MNAs and MPAs should also be involved in this exercise.
Farhatullah Babar said that the meeting was informed about the extent of huge damages caused by rains and floods. More than 7.5 million people have been affected in the calamity while a crop area of over 2 million acres had been damaged, causing a loss of Rs 215 billion. About 74 percent of cotton crop and 26 percent of rice crop has been destroyed.
On the whole, 47 percent of the major crops including cotton, rice and sugarcane had been destroyed. The damage to these three crops alone valued more than Rs 156 billion, he added.
The President also directed that a permanent solution be found for the drainage of water from Badin which had been experiencing this problem for quite some time now. He also stressed the need for drawing up alternate plans for draining water from the lower areas to prevent stagnation.
The meeting was informed that a relief package had been prepared by the provincial government for immediate implementation and it was urged that 50 percent of the package cost be borne by the federal government.
The President directed that the relief package plan be also referred to the federal government to examine the possibility of federal assistance in its implementation.
Speaker National Assembly Dr. Fehmida Mirza and Federal Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim also made presentation on the flood damages in different parts of the province particularly their respective constituencies and made proposals for addressing the issues.