Rulers not serious in disaster management plan: Haleem

Karachi: The rulers are not serious to implement a proper disaster management plan to save precious lives during natural calamities, said Pakistan Muslim League- Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q) Sindh chapter President Haleem Adil Sheikh here Tuesday.

Talking to media after his return to Karachi from four-day visit to the earthquake-hit areas and distributing relief goods there, he said sadly the government failed to learn a lesson from the past earthquake of the year 2005. He said had the rulers learnt lesson from that major calamity, the undue losses of human and property during the recent earthquake would have been minimized.

He said during the relief visits of the PML-Q and Pakistan Relief Foundation (PRF) volunteers, it was observed that the survivors of the earthquake living in far-flung hilly areas were ignored by the government in both relief and rehabilitation. He said the ruling politicians went to the areas with better road access and better media coverage. However, the poor people living in small hilly villages were ignored altogether. He said by the Grace of Allah, the human loss was not as high as braved during the earthquake of 2005; however, financial losses were too high, as hundreds of thousands houses were fully or partially damaged. He said the semi-damaged houses with cracks were not fit for human living as they could collapse anytime.

He said the homeless people were braving harsh cold weather, living under the open sky. Now rains and snowing have started, compounding the miseries of poor survivors. They urgently need tents, warm bedding and clothing. He said the earthquake has played havoc with poor and resource less people living on hill tops and their houses have completely damaged and their lifelong earnings and even dowries of their daughters lost under the debris.

Haleem Adil Sheikh, who is also chairman of PRF, said we reached there along with relief goods for more than 1000 families. From Shangla we have to walk for four hours to reach the hills of Turgar, Kala Dhaka. He said we sent another team of volunteers along with 250 tents and other relief goods to Bajaur. He said this was the area where the government survey teams are yet to reach.

He said we served the people above from political thinking and joined hands with people belonging to different political parties in serving the humanity. He said these people told us that their villages have been damaged. The remaining houses have developed cracks and they could not return to these semi-damaged houses due to the fear of aftershocks. He said the government has announced compensation for the collapsed houses, but who would repair these semi-damaged houses that are small disasters themselves.

He, however, praised the relief and rehabilitation activities of the Pak army. He advised the government to shun apathy and help the poor survivors in a befitting manner. He regretted that the focus of media went diverted to hierarchy politics and local government polls and the earthquake survivors remained at the receiving end.

He said before heavy snow the government should ensure its reach to the far-flung areas where jeeps could not travel. He warned after sowing the small roads and paths would go closed and these villages would become totally inaccessible.

To a question, he said the government assistance is not sufficient to help the survivors and people should open their hearts and purses, reviving the spirit of the earthquake relief of 2005. However, he urged the government to arrange temporary shelters for the survivors as they are too poor to rebuild their damaged houses.