Pakistan

Pakistan: Flood highlights need for big dams - Aziz

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ISLAMABAD, July 4: Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said on Monday had the big dams and reservoirs constructed in time, Pakistan could have saved millions of gallons of water which was now being wasted. This could be utilized for irrigation and other purposes. Talking to newsmen on the occasion of sending six truckloads of food items, medicines and other relief goods to the NWFP, he said medium and long-term plans were necessary to save water being wasted due to lack of reservoirs.

He said there was a need to think about the construction of dams and big reservoirs to store water so that the chances of floods wreaking havoc could be minimized and the stored water could be utilized in a better way.

He assured the people of NWFP that the federal government will not leave the flood victims alone in this critical hour and ensure their rehabilitation.

He said the federal government had already announced giving Rs100 million to offset the flood-related losses.

This was in addition to Sindh and Punjab governments' contributions of Rs50 million each.

The NWFP government estimates total losses at between Rs4 and Rs5 billion. It has demanded a special financial package to meet the expenses of rehabilitation from the NWFP.

The ruling Pakistan Muslim league (PML) president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao and PML president of NWFP chapter and Minister of State Amir Muqam were also present on the occasion.

He said the government was monitoring the flood situation round the clock and latest reports indicated that the flood level was coming down after the start of rains, with melting of snow at mountains on the wane.

The prime minister regretted that water resources were wasted in a big way during floods. He said the country needed water reservoirs which will also lessen the possibility of floods.

Responding to a question about the demand of huge funds by the NWFP government, the premier said the provincial government had been asked to make short-term and long-term plans to tackle the flood situation and assured full support of the federal government in meeting expenses on the rehabilitation of flood victims.

He said the provincial government had also been directed to take steps for the protection of rivers and canals so that the population living on their banks could be saved from any catastrophe.

In addition to sending relief supplies, the federal government had also set up camps in the flood-stricken areas to provide medical aid and medicines to the victims. The danger of epidemics had thus been averted.

The PML president announced that the party will also dispatch food items to the flood-hit areas and the provincial party president will supervise their distribution.

APP adds: Mr Sherpao said Prime Minister Aziz had personally visited the flood-hit areas and announced emergency assistance package of Rs100 million for the NWFP.

He said food items, medicines, and other essential items were being dispatched to the flood-stricken areas according to the needs.

He said the water level was increasing at some points but the federal government was fully aware of the situation and in touch with the departments monitoring it.

He said that in addition to people's displacement, crops had also suffered damage.

He ruled out the possibility of local body elections being postponed due to floods.

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