ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Friday launched a Rs 37 billion relief program to provide cash assistance of Rs 25,000 each to 1.5 million families in flood-hit areas of the country. Addressing the launching ceremony, the Prime Minister said that the cash distribution would be done through the Benazir Income Support Program in collaboration with the National Disaster Management Authority and other allied departments.
He said heavy monsoon rains and the subsequent floods have affected all the four provinces and Balochistan has been the most affected where hundreds of people died and infrastructure was destroyed.
He also paid tributes to six martyred Army officers, including Quetta Corps Commander Lt-Gen Sarfaraz Ali, who laid down their lives in a helicopter crash during flood relief operations.
Referring to his many visits to the flood-affected areas, the Prime Minister appreciated the rescue and relief efforts of all, including NDMA, PDMA, National Highways Authority and provincial departments.
“The whole country needs to be united to face this situation. The federal and provincial governments are also cooperating with each other. Our international partners and donors are also lending their support.”
The Prime Minister told the gathering that the cash assistance program, launched in the Jhal Magasi area of Balochistan, will support more than 90 lakh people across the country.
As assured by the NDMA President, the Prime Minister said that the cash distribution to help people meet their food and other urgent needs would be completed within three days.
He said that in the next phase a joint survey will be conducted to assess the damage done to crops, houses, highways and bridges which will follow coordination with the provinces to take up the rehabilitation work.
The Prime Minister also thanked Finance Minister Mifta Ismail for withdrawing Rs 37 billion from the national kitty to support the flood-affected people in that time of crisis.
The program has been initially launched in four districts of Balochistan namely Jhal Magasi, Khuzdar, Qila Abdullah and Lasbela. Beneficiaries of Jhal Magasi area were also shown receiving cash assistance through video link.
Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, who also heads the flood relief committee, told the gathering that being one of the five countries facing the worst effects of climate change, Pakistan not only needs to support its people, Rather, it needs to redesign its infrastructure to prevent future losses.
He said that in the first phase, the committee identified the areas most affected by the floods to provide cash assistance. In the second phase, a joint survey will be conducted to assess the damage done to houses and crops for their rehabilitation.
In the third phase, he said the government would seek help from international development partners to redesign the infrastructure to prevent future flood damage.
Poverty Alleviation and Social Security Minister Shazia Mari apprised the people about the death toll from the floods through video link.
He said that the country has received unprecedented heavy rains which are still continuing in some areas causing the flood situation to worsen.
He assured that BISP will ensure transparent cash disbursement based on the available data.
NDMA chairman Lt Gen Akhtar Nawaz said the country has received 150 per cent more rainfall than Pakistan overall and 318% more in Balochistan.
Federal ministers including Miftah Ismail, Ahsan Iqbal, Maryam Aurangzeb, Qamar Zaman Kaira and senior government officials attended the ceremony.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022