Much-awaited free wheat distribution in Thar begins today

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By Hanif Samoon

MITHI: The much-awaited emergency relief operation in the drought-hit Tharparkar region begins on Monday (today), according to a statement issued by Deputy Commissioner Moh­ammad Asif Jamil.

The statement issued on Sunday evening said that the operation was being launched on the direction of the Sindh government. A total of 208,247 families would be provided wheat free of cost during the relief operation, it said.

The list of deserving Thari families was provided to the district administration by the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra), it said, adding that each of the enlisted families would be provided 50 bags weighing 50 kgs each.

The relief operation, according to the statement, was being launched in all seven talukas of Tharparkar district.

The district administration has advised head of the enlisted families to produce his/her CNIC for identification while approaching the officials concerned to get the wheat bags.

According to the DC, the food department has already provided gunny bags to the district administration to facilitate delivery of free wheat to the beneficiaries. The required number of gunny bags have been made available at the distribution centres in Mithi, Kaloi, Islamkot, Diplo, Nagarprkar, Dahli and Chhachhro.

The DC said in his statement that directives had been issued to the functionaries concerned for ensuring proper facilities at the centres and security to the officials and workers engaged in the process.

The officials had been told to ensure that the beneficiaries should face no problem in receiving the relief wheat.

The Thar desert region was declared ‘drought-hit’ by the Sindh government about a month ago after insufficient and erratic rains in the area caused recurrence of drought and prompted re-elected Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah to announce the relief package.

Earlier on Aug 15, the DC had submitted his report on worsening drought situation in the district to the provincial relief commissioner Ghulam Qadir Junejo. However, no practical steps could be taken in the following weeks for unknown reasons.

On Sunday, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MPA from Nagarparkar Qasim Siraj Soomro told local reporters that the chief minister had asked the district administration at Mithi to kick off the free wheat distribution from Monday.

Mr Soomro acknowledged that during his recent visits to various areas of his constituency, he had seen drought-hit families migrating to barrage areas for their survival.

Infants’ death toll continues to rise Water-borne diseases and malnutrition claimed lives of six infants in the drought-hit Thar over the past two days leading the toll of such deaths this year to 463, according to unofficial sources.

All the six infants died at the Mithi Civil Hospital where they were brought for treatment from different villages of the district.

Parents of the infants, as well as many other children receiving treatment at the hospital, complained of a lack of proper healthcare facilities and unavailability of medicines in adequate quantity as well as indifferent attitude of doctors and paramedics.

Speaking to local reporters, they said free ambulance service, meant for poor families, was also not available for those patients who were referred to any major hospital in Hyderabad or Karachi.

Regarding water-borne diseases hitting their villages off and on, they said people of most villages had to consume subsoil water as no proper water supply system existed there.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2018

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