KOT ADDU Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif rekindled a hope of a new life among the homeless and resource-less flood-affected people in Southern Punjab on Saturday when he flew from the provincial metropolis to Kot Addu and celebrated Eid along with them. He directed the authorities concerned to make quickest possible arrangements for the tent-dwellers as well as those camping on the embankments for their return to their homes where from they were dislodged a few weeks ago by floodwaters. He sat beside them as well as shared food with them and sympathised with them for the unbearable losses they had suffered in the wake of the calamity. To ensure that the relief work goes on as planned, the workaholic CM has already deployed a team of his loyal aides of the Lahore PML-N in various flood-ravaged areas. They are working in close coordination with the local leadership to do more in less time. They included Rana Mubashir Iqbal, Afzal Khokhar, Salman Rafiq and Farah Deeba. This correspondent accompanied the chief minister during his whirlwind visit and saw how he worked to fulfill his promises. At some places, he airdropped some packages to the marooned people, which made it possible for the recipients to ward off the imminent starvation till some other arrangements were made to feed them. The visit, though short, raised the morale of the flood victims and help them rid their feeling of being left alone in adversity. They felt that someone was there who thought about them and their children. They chanted slogans in support of the CM and his elder brother Mian Nawaz Sharif. The CMs visit seems to have impelled the leaders of rival parties to be visit marooned whose votes they would be seeking in the next elections in a bid to stay in power. The CM reached Multan by his special plane and then flew to Kot Addu by a helicopter. He offered Eid prayers in a small village a few kilometers away. Then he visited a camp where Biryani boxes were distributed to hundreds of the flood victims. People were so happy to find the chief minister in their midst that they raised slogans in his favour. Your visit has mitigated our woes. You have proved to be Khadim-i-Ala (servant of the people), we salute you, said a middle-aged person through a megaphone, his voice choked with emotion. Another person said while the food was being regularly supplied to the flood-affected, now the government should focus on the reconstruction of houses and compensation of damage to crops. Mian Shahbaz Sharif said in his brief speech that he had been aware of the situation in the area ever since the floods had started hitting there about a month ago. I will not relax until every displaced person goes back to his home, he assured. Amid slogans, the chief minister said distribution of Rs20,000 per family had been started from Mianwali and would be extended to other areas in the days ahead. He said only the deserving people would be given the money. As for the farmers, he said, he had suggested to the prime minister that those with upto 25 acres of land should be given free seed and fertilizer. He said though the calamity had deprived hundreds of thousands of people of their homes, it had also provided the government with an opportunity to build such houses as were equipped with modern facilities. Then, in another nearby camp, he distributed relief goods among the people, majority of them children. From here, the CM reached Kot Mithan, where provincial minister Mian Mujtaba Shuja was there to receive him. The CM visited about a dozen camps and asked the dwellers whether they were getting food. In one camp, the mother of four was moved by the chief ministers sympathetic gesture to the extent that she kissed his forehead. She also requested to be photographed with him. Mian Shahbaz Sharif told the camp dwellers that he had wrapped up the Sasti Roti Scheme to divert funds to flood-hit people. These camps had been provided by Iran and USAID. The CM also had a aerial view of the areas still under water. While water had receded in some areas, others were still submerged. Crops ad orchards had been destroyed by standing water. He directed the relevant officials to dewater the affected areas and take steps to prevent the breakout of epidemics. Meanwhile, the chief minister told The Nation that 8.2 million families had been affected in Punjab. Losses to agriculture were estimated at Rs82billion. Hundreds of colleges and schools stood destroyed and damage to roads and bridges were estimated at Rs9 billion. It is not clear how the students will be able to resume their studies even after the end of the summer vacations because the schools and colleges were still in floodwaters.