SHC seeks fact-finding report on Thar drought

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday directed Sindh government to place on record the report of fact-finding committee constituted to probe Tharparkar tragedy, mostly deaths of women and children due to famine like situation in Tharparkar.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice Maqbool Baqar wondered that provincial authorities had neither apprised the court of a task of fact-finding into Thar tragedy assigned to Sanaullah Abbasi DIG Hyderabad nor has submitted a report in this regard. It issued directives to advocate general Sindh to furnish a copy of the report before court on next date of hearing.

The two-judge bench gave these directions while hearing a petition filed by Pakistan Institute of Labour and Education Research (PILER) and others seeking action against the government officials for their failure in providing relief and health facilities to famine-hit Tharparkar.

The bench constituted a three-member committee under the supervision of additional district to carry out inspection as to whether the medical officers posted by health department in desert were properly discharging their duties and submit its report.

The court instructed committee to also comment in report on the adequacy, efficiency and effectiveness of various health facilities in Tharparkar and submit their proposals and recommendation to improve the same. The report shall be submitted on next date of hearing, the court order added.

The bench ordered health secretary to provide a list of doctors, who have been posted in Tharparkar for rescue and relief operation, have defied the orders and shall inform the court about progress made in disciplinary action against such doctors.

The two-judge bench censured the secretary food and secretary Board of Revenue Sindh, who failed to provide the court with information regarding entire mechanism of food supply in desert areas.

It said that it is of basic important that government inform the court about entire mechanism of food supply system in the province and more particularly in its far flung areas and what was the role and responsibilities of the food department in this regard, and what is basic criteria for the relief department to supply food.

Provincial government told the court that three persons Fazal ur Rehman ex-relief commissioner, Ghulam Mustafa commissioner Mirpurkhas and Makhdoom Aqeel uz Zaman deputy commissioner Mirpurkhas were removed from the post on their negligent behaviour in providing relief and health facilities in Tharparkar. The court ordered three persons to appear before it well-prepared to meet all relevant queries of court that may be raised.

The judges became visibly irked when they were informed by relief commissioner that still 22758 families were without food and relief items from government. The court directed chief secretary to urgently take up the matter and make immediate arrangements for food supplies to the families.

The court asked him to submit comprehensive and detailed report in this regard before the next date hearing.

The petitioners represented by advocate Faisla Siddique submitted in petition that most areas of Tharparkar, including Mithi, Chhachhro, Diplo, Islamkot and Nangarparkar, were facing a famine-like situation and over 200 people, majority of them malnourished children, had died. They said that around 175,000 families were reported to have been affected with some of them forced to leave their homes due to famine.

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