August 1, 2022
By Asim Khan
QUETTA: Khaleel has been staying at the Naseerabad camp since the past several hours, waiting for help.
“We were living in Gundakh town, where there was a severe flood after the rains broke,” he says. “I gathered my children and moved to Jhat Pat area. Now we are staying here in this camp since then without any hope of rescue services, or any aid. Our children are starving.”
It is the same with Shamsullah in Lasbela. He is angry that there has been no government aid or any outside help for them and their children who crying for food.
“We have so many small children, and there is so much suffering here, I cannot even begin to explain,” he says. “There is nowhere to go. We are told the bridge will be fixed today, tomorrow, the day after….we are begin given promises. Neither the government is doing anything nor the administration. The hotel nearby which is our only source of food is giving out biryani for Rs250 for a couple of bites. Tea which isnt even properly boiled is being sold to us for Rs80. Can the government tell us what to do, and where to go for help?”
Monsoon rains hit Balochistan breaking a 30-year record, and in a recent spell approximately 500% more rain was recorded in the province causing massive damage and casualties. Bodies of dead children were seen being fished out of the flooded areas, and videos of people weeping at the loss of their loved ones, and their life’s belongings, are being shared online.
According to the Director of the Quetta Meteorological Department, Ajmal Shad, there has been up to four or five times more rain than normal across the province.
Meanwhile the death toll has reached about 136 since mid-June because of the rains. At least 33 women and 47 children are among the dead, says a report of PDMA.
“Around 32 people have died in Balochistan due to rains and floods since Thursday, July 28,” said Director PDMA Faisal Tariq.
The PDMA report also said that 13,535 houses were damaged across the province, some of them being completely demolished. Six different highways covering 640 kilometers have been severely affected and 16 bridges have been damaged in different districts of the province.
More than 23,000 livestock were killed and a total of 197,930 acres of standing crops were damaged leaving small scale farmers and livestock owners in a quandary about their future.
Other details revealed by the report showed that the rains that have been continuing for a month and a half have affected all 34 districts of the province from Zhob to Gwadar. Every sector including public and private buildings, dams, roads, bridges, railway tracks, agriculture, and pastoralism has been damaged.
Faisal Tariq, Deputy Director of the provincial PDMA, told Voicepk that the monsoon spell that had begun on July 24 affected Lasbela and Jhal Magsi the most, where the floodwaters entering the villages and have caused communication problems. Roads were washed away and there is still no land access to the affected areas. Therefore, the stranded people are still being rescued by boats and helicopters.
According to Deputy Commissioner Lasbela, Iftikhar Bugti, more than 5000 people trapped in different villages have been rescued so far.
According to Qaiser Roonjha, a local social activist of Lasbela, more than 60 percent of the houses have been destroyed due to floods and continuous rains.
“Long-term measures of rehabilitation of people are required. Tents and shelter in general is desperately needed in Bela because a flood has destroyed homes, leaving no place to hide from the deadly summer heat and the scorching sun,” says Qaiser Roonjha. “As there is water and more rain would ruin what is left, families cannot go and sit under the trees either.”
Meanwhile Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif upon his visit to Balochistan, ordered the NDMA to pay the compensation amount within 24 hours to the heirs of those who lost their lives in rain and floods.
The compensation for partially or completely destroyed houses has also been increased to five lac Rupees (Rs500,000). The PM while addressing in Quetta said that it is a national tragedy that no attention has been paid to dams. He added that widespread damage was caused by the unpredictable rains, and that that the network of medical camps should be spread at once.
The Chief Secretary Balochistan Abdul Aziz Aqeeli and Chairman NDMA Lt. General Akhtar Nawaz briefed PM Shehbaz and told him that 20,500 people had been shifted to safe places.
The M8 and Quetta-Karachi national highways have been restored to a large extent as well, they said. Sharif also visited the affectees’ camps in Qilla Saifullah and also visited Chaman district to review the relief situation.
Munir Ronjho, who belongs to Lasbela, says that the people who had been killed by the floods may have been the result of a natural disaster, but if a single human life was lost because of hunger, epidemic or dilapidated houses, it is a blame the district Administration must be responsible for.
Maulana Hidayat-ur-Rehman, head of the Haq Du Tehreek Gwadar, says that after the disaster caused by floods and rains in Balochistan, it was clear from the indifference and lack of interest by the federal and provincial governments as well as the media, that they did not care about the Baloch or what happens in the province.
While PM Shehbaz visited some of the camps, locals of Qilla Abdullah protested against PM Shehbaz Sharif for not visiting their district and demanded that a special package must be announced for the people of Qilla Abdullah.