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ISLAMABAD: The government, Tuesday, while dispelling the rumours of wheat shortage, said that currently Pakistan has 7.1 million tons of wheat storage, which during the same period of the last year stood at 6.1 million tons, and one million tons of wheat will soon arrive in Pakistan.

This was stated by National Coordinator National Flood Response and Coordination Centre (NFRCC) Major General Muhammad Zafar Iqbal while addressing a press conference along with Federal Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal and Chairman National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Lieutenant General Akhtar Nawaz Satti on the ongoing flood response, relief and rehabilitation efforts.

Coordinator NFRCC, while ruling out any shortage of wheat in the country, said that there was no chance of it and the authorities are ensuring the food supplies across the country, especially in flood-hit areas.

Giving the details to wheat stock losses, he said that grain silos of PASSCO, Sindh, and Balochistan governments located in flood-hit areas were checked where very nominal losses are reported, saying that in some silos three percent losses and in most places less than three percent losses to wheat are noted. “We are sure that there will be no problem in ensuring wheat and flour supplies to the masses,” he said.

The government will take action against hoarders and those involved in the cartelisation of wheat causing a price hike as we have a surplus of agricultural commodities in the country. He highlighted that the Centre was seriously working to ensure the sowing of wheat in Sindh in October as dewatering was under way at various sites and it was expected that the larger area of Sindh would be available for wheat sowing.

“We will procure seed for this area and will urge the international community to provide seed for wheat sowing; however, there is a little shortage of seed at the moment.

“The federal and provincial departments, Pakistan Army, the UN agencies, and NGOs are working collectively. We are making efforts to reach out to the masses through better coordination.”

He said that the government and partners had not reached all affected but the Centre and partners were engaged on a daily basis to achieve the goal in coordination with the deputy commissioners, assistant commissioners, and provincial government representatives.

The national coordinator said the NFRCC achieved few tasks and the remaining required more time and effort, adding, “The main thing in this regard is the rehabilitation of the affected rail routes, roads, and construction of bridges.” In Balochistan, he underlined that all connectivity routes were restored where a month earlier all national highway communication routes were choked.

“ML-1 which is the main railway line of Pakistan has been submerged under floodwater with 8-10 inches water at two locations but despite that, the trains are running on these routes, whereas, passenger rail traffic will be restored very soon.”

Moreover, he said the Centre would try to provide sunflower seeds in the areas having accumulated flood water for sowing to the masses so that this crop could be cultivated and benefit Pakistan. “Health is focused in flood-hit areas to control malaria and other diseases.

Earlier, speaking on the occasion, Federal Minister for Planning and Development announced launching “Adopt a District” programme with the cooperation of provincial governments to lend a helping hand to the districts worst affected by the catastrophic flooding.

The planning minister said that the government has decided that, through the Higher Education Commission (HEC), all vice-chancellors will be directed to task their university students to make a mother and child nutrition pack. Iqbal said that from the 2.5 million students enrolled across Pakistan’s universities, the government aims to gather two million mother and child nutrition packs, for which the details will be shared soon by using all the platforms including social media.

“We aim to raise these nutrition packs for helping the mothers and children, who are dying for want of food and their lives are at stake,” the planning minister said. He noted that it was the best time for youngsters to showcase their abilities and help the flood-hit people of their country.

“The people (suffering from floods) are now looking towards the 2/3 of the population which has not been affected,” Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives told a press conference alongside military officials on Tuesday.

The minister appealed to the doctors to set up medical camps wherever possible for the flood-hit people and also called on the unaffected population to donate generously for rehabilitation work.

Iqbal appealed to the health sector to ensure they help the government as outbreaks of diseases were being witnessed in several areas and are expected to increase.

Record monsoon rains and glacial melt in northern Pakistan triggered the flooding that has impacted nearly 33 million people in the South Asian nation of 220 million, sweeping away homes, crops, bridges, roads and livestock in damages estimated at $30 billion. The country received 391 mm (15.4 inches) of rain, or some 190 percent more than the 30-year average through July and August, a monsoon spell that started early and stretched beyond the usual timeline. Rainfall in the southern province of Sindh shot up to 466 per cent of the average. Chairman NFRCC Zafar Iqbal said that the relief packs could be delivered at the Army Collection Centres and the logistics would be ensured by the Army. “If someone wants to take more packs to the affected areas themselves then the Army will also provide help in this regard.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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