Crisis grips whole Chitral but help yet to reach victims

By Zulfiqar Ahmad
ISLAMABAD, July 26: The absence of an efficient district administration in Chitral has increased the miseries of the flood victims as the district government officials have done nothing for the rehabilitation of the victims except holding meetings to take stock of the situation.
[caption id="attachment_28352" align="aligncenter" width="940"]Booni bazaar wears a deserted look as it ran out of stocks. Photo SN Peerzada Booni bazaar wears a deserted look as it ran out of stocks. Photo SN Peerzada[/caption]Hundreds of displaced families in Reshun, Muzgol, Saht and other areas are living amid pitiable conditions in the caves or under the open sky without shelters.
The people of Chitral said the C&W and the Public Health Departments were in deep slumber as most of the areas including Chitral town were without water while the road network to Lotkuh and subdivision Mastuj had completely been damaged.
The incompetence of the district administration could be judged from the miseries faced by the people of upper Chitral and Lotkuh. There is a severe shortage of essential edible items and the administration is yet to start work to repair the damaged roads.
The people complained that a famine-like situation had been created in parts of upper Chitral and Garam Chashma. Some shopkeepers have also started fleeing the people as one kg ghee was sold at Rs350 at Booni Bazaar right under the nose of the government officials.
Civil society activists, lawyers, doctors and common citizens expressed deep concerns over the silence of the provincial and federal governments, and demanded that work on the restoration of damaged roads and bridges should be started and completed on a war-footing.
Let alone the floods victims, they added, people in upper Chitral and the Lotkuh areas are living in helpless conditions due to unavailability of essential items of daily use.
They severely criticized the PPP MPA Sardar Hussain and asked him to stop jumping in the air over the visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan, saying it was no solution to the huge losses faced by the people.
They said that during the visit of the prime minister to Kuragh, Sardar Hussain gave an impression as the damage done by the floods was minimal. They also severely criticized the PPP MPA over his trademark art of flattery during the visit of Imran Khan to Booni. [caption id="attachment_28356" align="aligncenter" width="940"]Green Lasht near Reshun. Photo GH Farooqui Green Lasht near Reshun. Photo GH Farooqui[/caption]Despite tall claims of the provincial government, they added, the people are facing diseases, especially skin problems. The work on the damaged roads is yet to be started while the elected representatives could be seen facilitating the families of VIPs, making reservations for them in choppers sent to airlift the stranded people.
An official of FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance Programme, a subsidiary of Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), said that they had enough stock of non-food items but due to the unavailability of a chopper, they could not airlift the relief items to the flood-hit areas.
He said the organizations had trained volunteers in different villages right from Arandu to Broghil, who are working in the flood affected areas round the clock and had set up tent-villages for the victims.
“The AKDN choppers is at a standby in Islamabad for the last four days but it could not fly to Chitral due to bad weather [and] the moment the chopper is here, the relief items will be airlifted to flood-hit areas,” he added.
The people also criticized the military for the slow pace of work in repairing the damaged road infrastructure, saying the heavy machinery of the FWO was yet to start work to repair the damaged roads and bridges.
They called upon Corps Commander Peshawar Lt Gen Hidayatur Rehman to take notice of the slow pace of work despite passage of so many days.
Despite repeated attempts, the DC Chitral and the C&W officials could not be contacted.
Talking to ChitralToday, Amina Waheed, the Exen Public Health Department, said arrangements had been made and supply of water to the residents restored on a temporary basis.
She said the meteorological department had warned of more floods due to which the work on the damaged water supply schemes would start after the flood warning is over.