MITHI  - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited Mithi, the capital of Tharparkar, to personally monitor the relief operation and announced Rs 1 billion package for the affected people as two more drought-hit children died in civil hospital here on Monday.
The prime minister said the government would help the people affected by the calamity and assured the Sindh government that the centre would fully support its efforts to tide over the crisis. He issued directions for swift provision of edible commodities and drinking water to the people. The prime minister said strict action should be taken against those responsible for the negligence in distribution of wheat amongst the residents of Tharparker.
He stressed proper strategy and planning to prevent the drought in Tharparker in future after thorough identification of the root cause.
He wondered that why the situation in Tharparker deteriorated as compared to the adjoining Cholistan desert, which falls in Punjab and doesn’t face food shortage.
Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah thanked the prime minister for taking emergency relief measures for the affected people. He assured the prime minister that the relief work would be carried on without going into the controversies.
He said the area of Tharparker was quite vast with little means of transportation. Qaim said the women doctors deputed in the area would be given double salaries and free transportation as incentive.
Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed, Federal Minister for National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar, Provincial Minister Sharjeel Memon and PML-N leader Marvi Memon also attended the briefing.
The prime minister, during a visit to Civil Hospital and Army Field Hospital assured that joint efforts would be made by the federal and provincial governments to provide maximum health facilities to the drought-affected people of Tharparkar. He also inquired after the health of children undergoing treatment.
Accompanied by PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Sindh CM Qaim Ali Shah, the prime minister took round of different wards and expressed sympathies with the attendants of children.
Sindh Health Secretary Iqbal Durrani and Head of Peads Department Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences Dr Salma Shaikh briefed the prime minister about the condition of children, who were brought from different areas of the Tharparkar district.
They said majority of the children admitted to hospitals , suffered form diarrhoea, pneumonia and malnutrition, and their condition was now under control.
The prime minister gave cheques of Rs 10,000 each to the parents of children admitted at the Army Field Hospital.
Separately, hospital sources said seven children were brought from drought-hit area of Mithi to Civil Hospital Hyderabad where the affected children were being treated under supervision of the doctors but two of them died.
The doctors said that remaining five children were being treated in the hospital with full care.
Meanwhile, reports said the situation in district Tharparkar was quite alarming as children continued to die of starvation and malnutrition especially in the remote areas where no relief team had yet arrived.
The reports further revealed that hapless people waiting for any messiah have started marching towards Mithi, the headquarters of both government and private relief teams, while those from far-flung areas who cannot afford to travel up to Mithi are waiting for any relief team to arrive.
The slow pace of relief work and distribution of wheat by the government have fallen far short of the urgency and speed required for saving the children from death for lack of food and medicines.
Hospitals are overcrowded but no additional arrangements have been made to accommodate the patients.
The reports pouring in from the affected district revealed that only 900 bags of flour could be distributed in Tharparkar out of 47,000 sent for the drought-affected population.
Chachro is among those areas where the relief operation has not yet been undertaken.
Pak Army and different political and religious parties’ relief camps have been set up to provide food and medicines to the suffering humanity of Tharparkar.
Earlier, during the briefing, attended by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the Deputy Commissioner Tharparker said the Sindh government had distributed 125,000 wheat bags among the residents of six talukas of Tharparker. He mentioned that 2,030 bags had so far been distributed in Mithi while 1,030 had been given away in Islamkot.
He said the wheat could be obtained from the help centres by showing identity card.
The commissioner said Rs 0.2 million would be distributed among the families of the deceased.
The prime minister was told that out of the 4.5 million of livestock, sheep was the most affected.
The deputy commissioner said the 15 mobile teams were reaching out to the families of Tharparker to vaccinate the livestock particularly sheep.
Separately, a convoy of 15 trucks loaded with food items from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government for distribution among the famine-affected people arrived in Mithi on Monday morning.
On the directives of Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Pervez Khattak‚ another relief caravan will arrive at Thar on Tuesday.
According to ISPR‚ four medical camps have been established at Diplo‚ Chachro‚ Mithi and Nagarpakar to provide healthcare to malnourished and sick. A team of doctors including three lady officers and three child specialists have treated 1,625 patients so far at medical camps.