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PM Nawaz gives Rs 1bn for drought-hit Thar

11 March, 2014

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MITHI: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday visited Mithi, the capital of the drought-hit Tharparkar District, to personally monitor the relief operation, and announced Rs 1 billion package for the affected people.

The prime minister said the government would help the affected people, and assured the Sindh government that the federal government would fully support its efforts to tide over the crisis. He directed swift provision of edibles and drinking water to the people. Nawaz said strict action should be taken against those responsible for the negligence in distribution of wheat among the residents of Tharparkar. He stressed evolving a proper strategy and planning to prevent a drought in Tharparkar in the future after identification of the root cause.

Prime Minister Nawaz wondered as to why the situation in Tharparkar had deteriorated while the adjoining Cholistan Desert was not affected by food shortage. He suggested launching mobile health units in far-flung areas of the Tharparkar District so that the people could get medical facility at their nearest point. The prime minister was also briefed about the relief activities in the drought-hit areas. Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari attended the briefing.

Giving the briefing, Tharparkar deputy commissioner said the Sindh government has distributed 125,000 wheat bags among the residents of six talukas of the district. Some 2,030 bags had been distributed in Mithi and 1,030 in Islamkot so far. He said wheat could be obtained from the help centres by the people after showing their identity cards. He said Rs 200,000 each would be distributed among the families of the deceased. The prime minister was apprised that out of the 4.5 million livestock, sheep was the most affected animal and 15 mobile teams were vaccinating them.

Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah thanked the prime minister for taking emergency relief measures for the affected people. He said the provincial government had nominated Taj Haider, general secretary of PPP Sindh, to monitor distribution of edible commodities. He said the government would form committees, comprising elected representatives, media persons and notables of the areas, to ensure fair distribution of goods.

The chief minister informed the prime minister that the provincial government had engaged a non-governmental organisation, Peoples' Primary Healthcare Initiative (PPHI), to look after the basic health units and rural health centres in various districts of the province. The prime minister declined to attend the luncheon arranged by the Sindh authorities and said that these resources should be spent on the Thar's affected people.

Earlier, Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif immediately after his arrival at Mithi visited civil hospital‚ Mithi and inquired about the health of ailing children admitted there for treatment.

He directed the doctors and para-medical staff on duty to provide best medical facilities to the children and take all the necessary measures to save the lives of drought hit children.

Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari accompanied the Prime Minister.

Earlier, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif arrived in Mirpur Khas to visit the drought hit Tharparkar district.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took notice of the strict security measures taken to protect him during his visit to the drought-hit Tharparkar.

The security protocol caused trouble to the people of Mithi as access to a local hospital was blocked. The Prime Minister directed that all the hospitals should remain opened for the patients.

PM had directed the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to immediately get in touch with authorities in Sindh and provide all possible aid and assistance.

The Prime Minister directed that all the hospitals, government and non-government organizations and other health centers should remain opened for the patients.

There is no proper healthcare facility in the Mithi Civil Hospital where the 32 children have died because of malnutrition.

A large number of sheep, camels, cows and goats have died in the arid, rain-dependent district. Scores of peafowl have perished in various villages, but the wildlife department is yet to take any significant step to improve the situation.

Reports received from Diplo, Chhachhro, Islamkot, Dahli and Nagarparkar suggest that many poor Thari families were moving to barrage areas, along with their livestock.

Relatives of the patients admitted to the hospital in Mithi complained that its administration was not providing medicines and they were forced to buy expensive drugs. "We cannot feed our children, how can we purchase medicines?"

The calamity has claimed lives of more than 100 children in the last three months. PM directed to open all hospitals in Mithi immediately.

Earlier, the Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah received the Prime Minister at the airport. Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid is accompanying the Prime Minister.

End.

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