Pakistan

Pakistan: CM's orders go unheeded - Compensation to flood victims

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By Intikhab Amir

PESHAWAR, Nov 20: Non-provision of sufficient funds to the flood relief cell, NWFP, has brought its operations to a virtual halt.

This is evident in the authorities failure to implement the recently issued instructions of Chief Minister Akram Khan Durrani viz-a-viz distribution of compensation funds among the flood victims of Dir upper district, according to official sources.

Chief Minister Durrani had announced to distribute compensation money among the families of flood victims recently killed in Dir upper district at a rate of Rs100,000 per person lost - instead of the officially fixed rate of Rs50,000 per bread-earner lost and Rs30,000 per non-bread earner lost.

Thirty-three people were killed after massive mud slides swept away scores of houses in different part of the Dir upper district. As per the officially maintained record with regard to payment of compensation money to the families of the victims, the dead included 21 categorized as non-bread earners and 12 were categorized as bread earner.

In view of the ferocity of the damage caused to human lives and private property in the affected areas the chief minister, as a special case, had raised the compensation amount to Rs100,000 per person killed.

However, the chief minister's instruction could not be implemented on the part of the authorities concerned of the provincial government due to paucity of funds.

"Though some of the victims' families have been released funds at the rate of Rs50,000 per person lost, the instructions to release Rs100,000 per person killed could not be implemented due to non-availability of funds," said an official.

Sources said the flood relief cell was unable to implement the CM's instruction as it ran short of funds. The cell had been released a sum of Rs12m at the start of the current financial year for its flood relief activities.

"The amount released could hardly help clear the demand from district governments in respect of compensation money to the families of the flood victims killed during the last financial year," said an officer.

A sum of Rs7.8 million, said the officer, was utilized to clear the last financial year's pending cases. Whereas, an amount of Rs3.5 million has been utilized to pay compensation to the families who suffered human losses due to natural calamities during the current financial year.

"At the moment the flood relief cell has nothing to distribute," said the official source. The cell had to experience the shortages of funds after the finance department, NWFP, did not release the special funds the former had been earmarked on the special instructions of the chief minister during the last financial year.

After being moved for the provision of the extra funds to dispose of the compensation cases, chief minister Durrani had announced special grant of Rs6.3m, according to sources, for the flood relief cell during the last financial year.

However, as the announcement had been made at a time when the financial year was about to end the authorities concerned requested the finance department, NWFP, to release the same amount during the 2003-04 financial year.

"They [finance department's authorities] have not released the amount separately, rather, it has been made part of the total funds of Rs12m released to the flood relief cell at the start of the current financial year," said the officer.

In an attempt to enable the flood relief cell to start its operations viz-a-viz distribution of compensation money against the pending cases, Chief Minister Durrani has recently been approached by the provincial flood relief commissioner for the provision of Rs22.7 million.

"The chief executive of the province has been apprised of the paucity of funds being experienced by the cell and requested to provide more funds to oblige the implementation of his instructions," said a senior government functionary.

The provincial government, according to sources, has received a total demand of Rs22.7m for the purpose of distributing compensation among the families who suffered human and financial losses during the current financial year due to natural calamity which hit several parts of the province.

In all 70 people have been reported dead as a result of flash flood and torrential rains in different parts of the province including 17 categorized as bread-earner and 53 categorized as non bread earner.

"Except for the Dir upper district where compensation would be paid at the rate of Rs100,000 per person lost, at all other places the compensation amount would be distributed in line with the normal officially prescribed rates," said the officer.

Three persons were killed in Charsadda, one each in Malakand region, Nowshera, Kohat, Shangla and Lower Dir districts. Besides, four each were killed in Mardan, Abbottabad and Swat districts, three each in Swabi, Hangu, DI Khan and Buner districts, two each in Chitral and Karak districts.

Apart from that a total of 33 were killed in the Dir upper district. The request sent to the chief minister for extra financial support asks for providing funds to pay Rs2.1m to the families of Dir upper victims, Rs470,000 to the families of victims killed in other districts, Rs1.1 million for clearing the last financial year's pending cases of compensation and Rs18 million for making payment against the numerous cases filed during the current financial year to pay compensation against the financial losses.

Some 732 houses categorized as 'Kutcha houses' were reported completely damaged. Besides, 4,293 'kutcha houses' were reported partially damaged and 584 'pakka houses' were reported partially damaged in areas affected by floods.

Affected families have also filed cases for payment of compensation for the 1,315 sheep lost and 931 cows and buffaloes lost in different parts of the province.

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