LARKANA/GHOTKI - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday visited the sensitive flood-hit areas of River Indus particularly Shaik Band Ghotki and announced Rs1 billion relief package to rehabilitate the displaced population of flood-affected areas of the province.

He inspected the ongoing relief activities and visited the relief camp of flood affectees in Qadirpur. He also met with the affected people of Katcha areas and distributed relief goods on the occasion.

Nawaz took an aerial view of the flood-hit areas of Guddu, Kashmore-Kandhkot, Ghotki, Sukkur and attended a briefing at Qadirpur Shiak-Band. Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah and Senior Information and Irrigation Minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, provincial ministers Ali Nawaz Maher, Jam Mehtab Dahar and top Sindh government officials, NDMA chairman, DG PDMA Sindh and others were also present on the occasion.

The PM directed the authorities to prepare a report about the damages caused by torrential floods this year and federal government would help the flood-hit areas without any delay. The federal government would not leave them alone and will take all measures to bring relief to them.

Nawaz said the federal and provincial government would strengthen the protective embankments of River Indus to halt future flood situation. The ongoing flood in River Indus has displaced over 375,000 people settled in the Katcha area of three districts including Khairpur, Sukkur and Ghotki, apart from displacement of people, 350,000 acre standing crops have been flooded in the recent floods in Sindh. Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah briefed him about the losses. Qaim said, “In Khairpur, 157,490 people have been displaced while 123,045 in Sukkur and 95,000 have been displaced in Ghotki district. Overall, 218 livestock have been lost in the floods. Standing crops over 350,445 acres have been washed away and 7,272 houses have been damaged either fully or partially.”

Sukkur Commissioner Abbas Baloch also briefed the prime minister. He told that 131 boats have been arranged to evacuate people from Katcha areas of the said three districts. “Out of 131 boats, 18 have been provided by Pak Army, two by Pakistan Navy, 27 by Rangers and 70 boats by PDMA have been hired,” he said. He further told that in 38 camps of the three districts, 43,431 people have taken shelter and they have been provided with 7,140 ration bags. “We have provided them medical facilities by setting up 43 dispensaries including 12 mobile dispensaries. Over 103500 cattle have been vaccinated,” he said.

Giving details about the rainfall, the commissioner said in Ghotki, it was recorded at 443.37mm, 285.01mm in Sukkur and 254.25mm in Khairpur. “This heavy rainfall claimed seven lives in Khairpur and one in Sukkur,” he said. PDMA DG Salman Shah also gave presentation on the relief work carried out by his organisation.

Irrigation and Information Minister Nisar Khuhro said the upstream Guddu Barrage was754005 on August 3 which has reduced on Tuesday at 720,000 and downstream 700,000. “Today at Sukkur Barrage, it is 700050 upstream and 660,000 downstream. At Kotri, it has been recorded at 320,000,” he said.

Talking about the vulnerable points, Khuhro said they were 50 in Sukkur and Larkana regions, of them eight are on the left bank of Sukkur region and 17 on the right banks of River Indus in Sukkur and Larkana region, five in Guddu Barrage, three on Left Bank Canal Area Water Board, Badin, four in Ghotki Feeder Canal area water board and eight in Kotri Barrage Region, Hyderabad. Secretary Irrigation Zaheer Hyder Shah giving brief history said the Qadirpur Main Bund was washed out from mile 2/6 to 10/4 during the super floods of 1973. The remaining portion of the bund from mile ½ to 2/6 was renamed Qadirpur Shank Bund and maintained for protection of Qadirpur Loop Bund. “The OGDCL management constructed the bund to protect their gas wells situated in the riverine area in front of LM Old Bund and connected it with Shank. As a result, river current has been diverted and directed to Qadirpur Shank Bund and Qadirpur Loop Bund at mile 5/0.

He assured the Sindh chief minister that the issue with the OGDCL would be settled once the floods get over. The secretary further said that Qadirpur Bund was eroded during the super floods of 2010 from mile 1/7 to 2/6 which activated Kari Dhandh (Black Lake) towards Qadirpur Loop Bund at mile 5/0.

The IRC proposal of plugging breach of Qadirpur Shank Bund was put up and approved in the IRC meeting on November 8, 2010 and its PC-I of Rs279.472 million was approved by the PDWP and was submitted to the Ministry of Water and Power (Flood Commission) for further approval which is still pending.

Welcoming Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Qaim said he had always been a helping hand to his government and the province. “The PM has taken aerial view of the flood devastation. We are not only looking after the flood affected people but looking after them properly from our resources.”

Later, Senior Minister Nisar Khuhro while talking to the media at different locations, he said if any embankment would damage or breached, the complete responsibility will be laid on the irrigation officials. He said all those who constructed protective embankments inside River Indus, they should step down otherwise Sindh government will take action against those landlords, he said.

Regarding the rescue and relief activities, only in Sukkur 1189 patients were treated at the established relief camps at protective dykes in Sukkur district where 16 doctors and 66 medical staff have been deputed at the medical camps and mobile patrolling teams.

The reports told that 12 different medical camps of the health department along with 16 mobile medical teams are on patrolling to provide treatment facilities to the inhabitants of Katcha areas. There are numerous skin and waterborne diseases spread in the affected areas. Over 187 patients are affected with skin diseases, 71 with eye infection and 746 with general diseases. Among them, 66 children were also vaccinated during the routine immunisation, they told.