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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Tuesday that the government had decided to increase the disbursement of funds among the flood affectees to Rs 70 billion, which would be disbursed through the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP).

While discussing the flood situation in the cabinet meeting, the prime minister stated that Rs20 billion have already been distributed among the flood victims, whereas, another Rs8 billion will be distributed in a few days. He added that 55 percent amount in Balochistan has been disbursed. He said that approval of the cabinet would be taken for the fund being disbursed among flood victims.

The premier said that initially Rs 28 billion was allocated for flood victims which has now been increased to Rs 70 billion and approval of the fund would also be taken from the cabinet.

The prime minister said that apart from this, a grant of Rs 15 billion has been announced by the federal government for the province of Sindh, Rs10 billion each for Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and Rs3 billion for Gilgit-Baltistan.

Thus far, $10bn losses caused by floods: Miftah

PM Sharif added that for those who lost their loved ones due to flood disasters, the federal government is giving Rs 1 million compensation to each family and for this purpose Rs5 billion has already been provided to the NDMA and another Rs3 billion additional would be given to it.

He said that in the last week or so, the world began to realize as to how much rains and floods have caused damage in Pakistan. As a result, he said that help from all over the world is coming for the flood victims including from the UAE, Turkiye, Qatar, US, and China, etc., besides, Britain has also announced to increase its aid.

There is a need for a comprehensive and well thought-out plan for rehabilitation for flood victims, said the premier adding he was also grateful to the international media which informed the world about the situation in Pakistan by reporting facts. He underlined the need to build a proper drainage system; otherwise, rainwater would not recede.

He also flayed the provincial government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and termed flood disaster in Swat as man-made calamity. He added that those who are giving lecture day and night should have found a solution to the problems as hotels were built in the middle of the river in the Swat valley. Therefore, to avert such losses in the future law should be implemented in letter and spirit, the premier added.

He also acknowledged the services rendered by all the institutions including the Pakistan Army, the PDMA, the NDMA, and others in shifting the flood victims to safe places. The prime minister said the task ahead of reconstruction and rehabilitation of flood victims is enormous.

The federal government has decided to increase the net amount of the flood relief assistance programme for flood-affected families to Rs70 billion from an initial assessment of Rs28 billion.

The meeting of the federal cabinet was chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. The prime minister said that a separate grant of Rs15 billion has also been made for Sindh, Rs10 billion each for Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and Rs3 billion for the flood-affected people of Gilgit-Baltistan.

Shehbaz Sharif said that the relief assistance amount is being distributed through Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) which has disbursed about Rs20 billion so far. Furthermore, he said that Rs1 million is being given to the family of each deceased person in the floods.

On the occasion of Pakistan Defence and Martyrs’ Day today, the Cabinet prayed for the forgiveness and elevation of the martyrs of the Pakistan Army and the people who fell victim to the flooded railways.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) gave a detailed briefing to the federal cabinet on the current situation of floods and the disaster caused by them across the country and the ongoing rescue, relief and rehabilitation activities by the federal and provincial departments.

The cabinet was told that the recent flood is the biggest flood in the history of Pakistan, in which, Sindh and Balochistan have been badly affected. In which, 6,615 union councils of 81 districts have been severely affected.

Since June 14, 190 per cent more rains have occurred in the whole of Pakistan than in the last 30 years, while the rate in Sindh has been 465 per cent and in Balochistan 437 per cent.

At least 1,325 people including men, women, and children were killed across the country. Including 522 from Sindh, 289 from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 260 from Balochistan, 189 from Punjab, 42 from Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and 22 from Gilgit-Baltistan.

In total, 12,703 people were injured in the whole country, including 8,321 people from Sindh, 3,844 people from Punjab, 348 people from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 164 people from Balochistan, 21 people from Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and five people from Gilgit-Baltistan.

Due to the recent historic monsoon rains, 1.688 million houses, 246 connecting bridges, 5,735 km of roads and 750,000 cattle were exposed to floodwaters across the country.

The prime minister expressed his concern that some areas such as Swat have been destroyed due to human negligence where hotels have been constructed illegally in the river bed. The prime minister directed the concerned authorities to ensure effective implementation of zoning rules and regulations related to land use in River Bed to avoid any such disaster in future. The prime minister said that we should avoid playing politics on such matters.

A few days ago, the prime minister established the National Flood Response and Coordination Center (NFRCC) to speed up the rescue and relief efforts of the flood victims. The NFRCC officials told the cabinet that as per estimates, 80 to 90 percent of the irrigated area across the country could be made suitable for wheat cultivation, otherwise, there could be a severe food crisis in the country.

The prime minister has arranged to ensure the distribution of flood relief cash of 25,000 rupees per family on a priority basis to 1.2 million flood-affected families through BISP. For this purpose, the prime minister initially allocated 28 billion rupees. So far, Rs20 billion have been distributed to the flood-affected families while the remaining Rs8 billion will be distributed in the next three days. 55 per cent of this flood relief cash has been distributed in Balochistan.

Keeping in view the increase in flood disasters, the federal cabinet approved to increase the amount of Rs28 billion to be distributed through BISP to Rs70 billion. The Cabinet approved the formation of a committee to review the strategy for disbursing this amount to the flood victims in a transparent manner.

The prime minister has also announced financial assistance of 15 billion rupees to Sindh, 10 billion rupees to Balochistan, 10 billion rupees to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and three billion rupees to Gilgit-Baltistan for the rehabilitation of flood victims.

The federal government has also provided financial assistance of one million per person to the families of those who died in the flood, through the NDMA. The prime minister appreciated the efforts of the Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Marriyum Aurangzeb and the Minister for Climate Change, Sherry Rehman, who conducted an effective media awareness campaign on the domestic and international levels about the flood disasters.

The prime minister emphasized that an effective drainage system and construction of better infrastructure is indispensable to protect the country from natural calamities.

The prime minister also praised the officials of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Ministry of Climate Change, Ministry of Communications, Ministry of Energy, Economic Affairs Division (EAD), Planning Commission, Benazir Income Support Program (BISP), Ministry of Railways, and Frontier Works Organization (FWO) who are working day and night to reduce the effects of flood disasters and to raise awareness, relief and rescue of the compatriots who are in the calamity.

Minister for Railways and Aviation Khawaja Saad Rafique told the cabinet that all four lines of Pakistan Railways have been badly affected by flood relay and railway operations are still closed due to the destruction of a link bridge in Quetta-Sibbi section.

Minister for Energy Khurram Dastgir told the cabinet that two of the three major electricity transmission lines of Balochistan of 810 megawatts have been restored. The minister for energy told the Cabinet that only those grid stations that are still underwater are closed across the country.

On this occasion, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari informed the cabinet about the flood situation and relief activities in Sindh. The prime minister assured them that through the coordination and cooperation of the NDMA and the PDMAs, tents and mosquito nets will be provided to the provincial governments on a priority basis for the flood-affected families.

The prime minister ordered the Planning Minister and Chairman NDMA to leave for Karachi immediately so that relief and rehabilitation activities can be improved in collaboration with the provincial government of Sindh because Sindh is the most affected province.

In this regard, chairman NDMA told the cabinet that so far 24,000 tents have been provided in Sindh.

The prime minister has thanked the international community, especially China, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Uzbekistan, Qatar, France and Turkmenistan, as well as the UNICEF and the UNHCR, from which relief items for the flood victims have started reaching Pakistan. The United Arab Emirates has sent aid worth 50 million dollars to Pakistan. The first shipment of essential relief goods from Turkey was received two days ago. China has increased its aid amount by 400 million RMB, while the UK has announced an increase in aid amount from 1.5 million to 1.5 million pounds. The United States has announced three million dollars and Prince Aga Khan has announced one million dollars. Saudi Arabia is launching an aid program. While the Qatari emir and the Emirati president promised all kinds of help. The World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the JICA are providing assistance to Pakistan to deal with this disaster.

During the 2010 floods, high-ranking foreign personalities visited Pakistan and played an active role in the rehabilitation of the flood victims. The current situation is much worse than that. So every day I am personally persuading top foreign dignitaries to visit Pakistan again. Because we all can overcome this disaster together. Let us accept this challenge and devote ourselves to the rehabilitation and service of our suffering countrymen.

On this occasion, the prime minister also thanked the foreign media for creating more awareness in this regard by reporting on facts.

The prime MINISTER thanked the Pakistani philanthropists and parties as well as the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ICCI) and other chambers of industries of the country for actively participating in the Prime Minister’s Flood Relief Fund to help the flood victims. Due to their efforts, the work to help the flood victims has become a movement across Pakistan.

The prime minister also appreciated the role of the national media in this regard, which informed the whole world about the real situation of flood disasters in Pakistan. The prime minister also thanked the chief ministers, chief secretaries and all the provincial departments who actively participated in the rescue and relief of the people trapped in the flood and directed the provincial institutions to work together. He further said that this is a national tragedy to deal with which all the parties should dedicate themselves to the national spirit and play their full role because we are Pakistanis first.

The Federal Cabinet approved the following decision taken in the meeting of ECC on 30-08-2022, including (i) Development of business plan by the NHA; (ii) G-20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative; (iii) Refixing National Wheat Strategic Reserves to the level of 2 MMT; (iv) Emergency Case Assistance to victims of flash floods 2022; and (v) Approval for Arrangements/Expenditure Related to On-Site Visits of FATF/APG Assessor Team.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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