Chitral must get full relief measures


sher In upper Chitral, about 90% wheat crop is harvested and threshed from 15th July to the end of August every year. If these two months remain dry, the poor farmers can get the fruit of their tough labour. This year, spring remained abnormally cold while the summer rainy to record an exceptionally unfavorable season for fruits and crops. Apricots had fully bloomed but didn’t bear fruits, inflicting a heavy loss to the owners. A similar condition was seen with apples, a big source of income of the poor people. Orchards remained barren. The wheat crop was completely destroyed. Not a single farmer could get healthy grain for his children and husk for his cattle. Thus majority of the agriculturists of subdivision Mastuj lost every bit of their land produce. In sub-tehsil Mastuj, from Mastuj to Gazen in Yarkhun, the farmers had no seed for autumn sowing and they waited for the supply of seed from government till the end of the sowing season. It was stated the Agriculture Department had supplied 60 bags of seed to each village council (about 700-800 households) through their Kissan councilors. A Kisan councilor of V/C Bang sustained injuries of assaults while distributing these seed bags. Some people purchased seeds from those heaving no fields but had been given bags of seeds or they had snatched from the suppliers (Imran Khan Imdadi seeds). These seed bags clearly bearing label, “NOT FOR SALE” were openly sold at the rate of Rs3,000 per bag. The public hue and cry against the unfair distribution of bank cheques and other commodities amongst the earthquake affected families cannot be refuted. A villager told me that one village council chairman distributed one vehicle load of tents, beds, utensils etc amongst his close relatives, including himself who had lost nothing in the floods. These relief goods had been provided by FOCUS Humanitarian Organization for the flood-affected people. Such irregularities were commonly seen during the relief campaign. Though a transparent survey and provision of relief is the duty of the relevant government departments/NGOs, dishonesty, lying and submission of false affidavits by some individuals are the only “gifts” which have been given to the simple and innocent villagers by our political system. When a national level politician does not hesitate to submit forged degree to be qualified for taking part in an election, promises on oath to do some public work and then forgets his words, how we should expect from a poor villager to be honest and truthful? It is still blamed that Benazir Income Support Programme has been benefiting the PPP voters only. It is only politics which corrupted the innocent public to the root level. As stated above, nearly all the population of upper Chitral had lost their agriculture produce due to the extremely adverse weather condition during 2015. The heavy floods of July and August and devastating earthquake of October 26 further added to their misery by causing damages to their houses, water channels, roads and bridges. The villagers remained cut off from each other for months. No government official did come to their help or contacted them. From Brep to So Yarkhun the local people volunteered to open link roads between the villages. Very few residential structures survived the horrific earthquake. Majority of the houses have become unserviceable and dangerous for living. A minor jolt of earthquake may uproot them, God forbid. In fact, more than 80% households need safe shelters. Disaster-hit people usually behave abnormally. In such a state of affairs if one uses unfair means to get something from his/her lethargic and incompetent government, he should not be treated harshly or condemned and cursed. It was rumored that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during his visit to Chitral had announced subsidized wheat supply to Chitral. It was also propagated that the chief minister KP had promised that the provincial government would bear 50% of carriage charges of wheat supplied to Chitral. People were very pleased and waited for the materialization of the announcement which did not occur yet. The people didn’t purchase wheat for the winter hoping for the subsidized rate. Now they will have to bear double “khasara” of purchase at higher rate and grinding at generator-run machines who fleece them by charging Rs300 per bag. Their traditional watermills do not work during the winter. The disaster-hit people of Chitral are still hopeful that the prime minister and the chief minister KP will ensure favorable action in connection with granting subsidy in wheat supply. Otherwise, it is feared that the people will die of starvation. ]]>

1 Comment
  1. Stephen Wolstenholme says

    I hope that people wake up to the suffering in N Pakistan and that more help arrives to assist people through the hard winter.

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