KARACHI: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif expressing profound grief over the death of 1,256 people due to heat stroke has directed National and Provincial Disaster Management Authorities to learn lesson from the current pattern of climate change and work out a comprehensive plan to cope with such a hot weather condition in future so that loss of lives could be averted.
This he said while presiding over a meeting at the CM House here on Wednesday, a CM House statement said.
The meeting was attended by Governor Sindh Dr Ishratul Ibad, Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Federal Ministers Chaudhry Nisar, Parvez Rasheed, General (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch, State Minister Saira Afzal Tarar, Provincial Ministers Syed Murad Ali Shah, Sharjeel Inam Memon, Jam Mehtab Dahar, Chief Secretary Siddique Memon and government officials.
The Prime Minister said that he was deeply grieved over the death of innocent people during the current heat wave. “It would be a futile exercise to pass the buck but we have to trace out weaknesses and failures of government machinery, planning and reasons why it could not be pre-empted,” he said.
Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah briefing the Prime Minister said that it was an unexpected situation. “The Met office had issued the warning of rains, therefore the government was working out contingency plan but all of a sudden the heat wave hit the megalopolitan city of Karachi,” he said.
He said that on June 19 heat wave started lashing the city. “I was in Larkana in connection with birth anniversary of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto when I heard the news that a large number of people have expired due to heat stroke. I cancelled my other engagements there and rushed to Karachi. I visited JPMC, Civil and Qatar hospitals,” he stated.
He said that during the five days of heat wave he ensured attendance of doctors and paramedical staff in the hospitals and provided them with all necessary facilities including medicines, water etc. “My ministers and district administration remained alert round the clock. I must appreciate doctors, nurses and para-medical staff and social welfare organisations for their untiring services,” he said.
The Chief Secretary briefing the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that on June 19 temperature rose to 41 degrees and wind velocity came down and remained between 15-25 km and top of it humidity rose to 55 percent. Again on June 20 temperature further rose to 45 degree and wind velocity further dropped down to 13 km and humidity went up to 63 percent and on June 21, 22 and 23 almost the same situation continued with a little change.
Giving reasons of death toll, the Chief Secretary said that the weird weather, high humidity of about 60 percent, low air velocity, hot winds (Loo) collectively rose the temperature followed by major electricity outages caused such a huge loss of lives.
Giving comparison of India with Sindh, he said that from May 25 to June 15, 2500 people died in India due to heat stroke. Their worst affected areas were Andhra Pardesh, West Bengal and Orisa. In Karachi from June 20 to 25, some 1,189 people died for the reasons of monsoon, El-Nino, humidity, low air movement and Loo which collectively can be called as heat stroke. The affected areas of Karachi are District Central, Korangi and West.
He said that because of lack of acclimatization, living style of people in congested/populated areas and in slums the situation aggravated. The vulnerable segments were old, weak people and children. Their working condition in the state of fasting was also a contributing factor. The shelter-less or beggars living on the footpaths have also been affected badly.
Talking about government initiatives the Chief Secretary said that high alert in all medical facilities was declared and 303 heat stroke care units were established. The government made emergency medicines available in all hospitals/units and launched awareness campaign through print and electronic media.
The chief secretary also said that the government was providing free water tankers from at Rs 1100 to 3000 to the water starved areas of the city.
The Prime Minister said “what lesson we have learnt from this tragedy is to pre-empt the situation. Our National and Provincial Disaster Management Authorities have to play an active role. We must extend all possible support to the social welfare organization such as Edhi, Chhipa and others. The Met office has to be more efficient,” he said.
The Chief Secretary gave presentation to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on mega water supply projects for Karachi.
The Prime Minister assured that the federal government would also provide fund for completion of the mega water supply projects for Karachi.
Briefing about the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT) Green Line, the head of the project Taha Farooqi said that the project is a gift of the Prime Minister for people of Karachi.
He said it was a Rs 16.085 billion project and its topographical survey, inception report preliminary alignment, soil investigation have been completed.
He said that the length of BRT Green Line would spread over 17.8 kilometers, of which 3.45 kilometers are elevated and it would have 22 stations. Over 300,000 passengers would travel per day.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif informed the Chief Minister that he had released Rs 8 billion for the project which was about 50 percent of the total cost.
The Prime Minister directed the head of the BRT Green Line project to complete it within time.
The Prime Minister also held a detailed meeting with the heads of social welfare organizations and lauded their selfless service to humanity.
Those who attended the meeting were Faisal Edhi, Ramzan Chhipa, Abdul Bari of Indus Hospital, Zaid Bashir of Patient Aid, Shakeel of Alamgir Welfare Trust and representative of Silani Welafre Trust.
They briefed the Prime Minister about the nature of their services and their problems.
The Prime Minister assured them that they would be looked properly. “I would hold a separate meeting with you in Islamabad and redress all your grievances,” he assured them.