KARACHI - After helping out more than one million flood-affected families in the first phase under the Watan Card scheme last year, the Sindh government has finally decided to release the second tranche of Rs 40,000 under the project... but to only 260,000 people!
The worst-ever floods experienced by the country in 2010 had brought large scale devastation in the province, displacing 1.8 million families and destroying around 11,985 villages. The federal and provincial governments had announced a number of measures for the rehabilitation of the displaced people.
In September 2011, at least 1.1 million heads of the families affected by floods were provided Rs 20,000 each, under the first tranche of Watan Card – a project jointly launched by the federal and provincial governments to help the flood survivors meet their financial needs.
However, well-placed sources told Pakistan Today, that the number of people to be given financial assistance was lowered due to the alleged corruption of the Sindh Revenue Department officials.
Supposedly, the federal and provincial governments had to contribute equally for the provision of Watan Cards with the initial estimate of Rs 190 billion required to ensure compensation to the flood-affected people in Sindh. However, the Centre withdrew from its pledge later and directed the provinces to rehabilitate the flood survivors on their own.
The Sindh government had to arrange Rs 36 billion on its own for the first instalment.
And now with the time for elections approaching, the Pakistan People’s Party-led Sindh government has undertaken a survey through local revenue officials for issuing the second instalment under the Watan Card; but the revenue officials have allegedly reduced the number of flood survivors from 1.1 million heads of families, who were given Rs 20,000, to only 260,000 people to be given Rs 40,000.
“While the government and NADRA have decided to issue the second instalment of Watan Card to those identified by the revenue officials, the names of persons who did not grease the palms of the revenue authorities have been deleted from the actual list,” the sources said. “The district coordination officers (DCOs) were also involved in massive irregularities and misreporting the number of flood-affected people, and in the first stage more than 80,000 Watan Cards were distributed among people not affected by the floods.”
Misreporting to the higher authorities, the Dadu DCO had included more than 21 dehs of Mehar taluka that remained safe from floods in the list of calamity-hit areas. Similarly, the DCOs of Jacobabad and Badin had also included several names of dry areas into the flood-hit areas.
“The irresponsible behaviour of the district governments under strong political influences, has caused losses in the tune of millions of rupees to the provincial exchequer, besides depriving the genuine flood survivors of their rights to rehabilitation,” the sources said, adding that the Sindh government has also not taken action against the people who received the Watan Cards out of turn and withdrew the deposited Rs 20,000 from the auto-teller machines.