SUKKUR: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has informed diplomats of over 20 countries and representatives of donor agencies that Sindh urgently needs Rs860 billion to reconstruct collapsed houses, repair roads and revive agriculture destroyed by unrelenting heavy rains that pounded the province for several weeks.

“We have to rehabilitate people, give them jobs, reconstruct road network and strengthen economy,” said Bhutto-Zardari, adding that they would also need machinery to restore fertility of inundated farmland after the floodwaters receded.

Bhutto-Zardari, who was received by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and Federal Minister for Water Resources Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah at Sukkur airport on Wednesday, was speaking to the guests at a meeting he chaired at the airport to inform them about the scale of devastation caused by the torrential rains and flood in Sindh and other provinces.

He said that the torrential rain and flood had affected almost entire country but it had rained more than usual in Sindh. At present, drainage system was not working due to high flood at Guddu and Sukkur barrages, he said.

He said: “This is the first flood which has inundated both riverian areas and the urban centres at the same time, rendering large populations homeless. The rain and flood had destroyed crops and caused loss of Rs33.5,441 million to growers in the province, he said.

The National Disaster Manager Authority (NDMA) officers also briefed the delegation about the damage from the catastrophe.

The delegation comprised ambassadors and diplomats of Turkmenistan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Germany, Canada, Spain, South Korea, China, European Union, France, Iran, Turkiye, Qatar and Japan, and representatives of United Nations Population Fund, USAID, United Nations Children’s Fund, International Organisation of Migration and others. After the meeting, all the guests took an aerial view of the inundated cities, towns, crops and canals.

This flood bigger than 2010, 2011 deluge, says Murad

At a separate meeting with the guests, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali and Sindh chief secretary Sohail Rajput briefed the visiting diplomats and donor agencies’ representatives in detail about the unprecedented monsoon rains.

Shah said that the recent flood was graver catastrophe than the floods of 2010 and 2011 as this crisis had deepened with high flood in Indus at Guddu and Sukkur barrages which had inundated entire riverian area.

The chief secretary told the meeting that 24 districts with 102 talukas and 5,727 dehs had been declared as calamity-hit areas.

The chief minister said that funds for compensation for deaths, injuries, damage to houses and loss of livestock, damage to crops, waiver of interest on agricultural loan and rescheduling of loan repayment by deferring it for at least one year, grant of subsidy on agricultural machinery, fertilisers, pesticides and seeds to farmers of the flood-hit areas were required urgently.

He said that one million tents, three million mosquito nets, two million ration bags for two months, one million jerry cans and one million kitchen sets, 500,000 plastic mats and 500,000 woolen mattresses and tarpaulin were required for relief the rain-hit people in the camps.

In Karachi, roads, bridges, sewerage system would require Rs50 billion to repair or reconstruct, he said.

Published in Dawn, September 1st, 2022

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