Two months on, govt apathy, harsh winter aggravating flood affectees miseries

SWAT: Despite lapse of two months of devastating floods in Swat District, rehabilitation and resettlement of the affected people could not started and it is feared that their miseries will be compounded by the winter, which is about to start.

According to data compiled the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) during a damage assessment survey, 34 people including six children and a woman were killed in the devastating flood of August 26 in Swat District, while 28 injured were injured. Similarly, 88 houses were completely destroyed during the flood while 145 were partially damaged. Apart from this, 29 other buildings have also been affected by the flood.

The PDMA statistics are correct but the reality is quite the opposite. Many hamlets along river banks in Kalam, Bahrain, Madyan, Matta and Khwazakhela were washed away by the roaring floodwater. The number of damaged houses is in hundreds, while more than 200 trout fish farms, 2 large hatcheries, several educational institutions, mosques, religious schools (Madrasas) and many hotels have also been washed away by the flood.

Apart from this, peach, persimmon, apricot, plums, apple and other fruit orchards and vast fields of vegetables were also washed away by floodwater. According to a conservative estimation, flood caused a huge loss of Rs20 to 25 billion in Swat valley.

On other hand, the KP government has provided compensation amounting to Rs0.5 million each to the heirs of those who lost lives and Rs0.2 million to the injured, but unfortunately, despite the passage of two months, no relief money could be provided to the displaced victims. The affected people complained that despite the fact KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan belongs to Swat, he has so far failed to take any step for resettlement of those rendered homeless by the devastating flood.

The Village Council Roringar in Tehsil Matta, where village Mandaldag was completely wiped out by furious floodwater while the surroundings have also changed drastically after calamity.

Iftikhar Ali, a local body representative of the village council, informed that 96 houses and more than 40 shops had been washed away by floodwater in one of the villages in his village councils besides wiping out 17 Trout fish farms, schools, mosques and orchards from the village map and where now only destruction and big stones were visible. “Though the calamity has gone now and become a part of the past, condition of the affected people has not changed and cold weather has entered from above, multiplying difficulties of the victims”, he said.

“I am the youth councilor of my area and the residents have elected me by giving more than 1,600 votes, but it is a pity that neither we have the authority nor the Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mahmood Khan and MPA elected from the area and provincial minister Muheebullah Khan do not even listen to us and people come to us and demand us.” Iftikhar Ali said.

Amir Salam Khan, 65, a resident of village Mandaldag, said that he had built an eight-room house for himself after working hard for a lifetime and was living in his house with his married sons, but his house was completely destroyed and now they have taken refuge with their relatives, adding that at this time their life is going through a lot of difficulties and now the winter season has also started.

“We don’t have a house and we don’t have the money to run the wheel of life. What we had with us has been washed away by the flood and our provincial government has not helped us,” he regretted.

Amir Salam Khan said that Chief Minister KP Mahmood Khan belongs to this area but unfortunately he has not asked about condition of people of the area so far, nor has bothered to visit the area and “console the people with mere claims.”

Forty-eight-year-old Umar Farooq said that it has been two months since the floods but they have not received anything from the government.

“In this situation, if we are not helped immediately, our life can be very difficult,” he said, adding that people of the area go to work in sugarcane mills in Sindh and Punjab at the end of November, but after the floods, there are no signs of their employment.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan visited Swat last week and spoke to the media in Gabin Jabba area of Tehsil Matta. He said on this occasion that after the flood disasters, restoration and rehabilitation has been underway at a brisk pace.

“The KP Government will compensate all the affected people in 15 to 20 day,” he had claimed and added that construction of houses was his first priority and in this context he had increased the compensation for the construction of damaged houses from Rs0.2 Million to Rs0.4 million to help affected people resettle in their houses.

The flood affectees have expressed regret that the government officials come and hold photo sessions with announcements, but practically no steps could be taken so far for their rehabilitation and resettlement, which is a question mark on the performance of the rulers.

Syed Shahabuddin
Syed Shahabuddin
Reporter at Pakistan Today

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