KARACHI - In wake of suo moto notice of the apex judiciary and increasing criticism over 150 deaths of malnourished children in Thar, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah by changing his opinions has come in defensive position, claiming that his government started arranging relief efforts since November last year.

Expressing displeasure over the delay in distribution of wheat to the drought-affected people of Thar, the CM ordered the Sindh chief secretary to conduct an impartial inquiry into the causes of not reaching the food to the famine-hit area by fixing the responsibility.

After spending a day along with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Thar, the CM came to Karachi where he chaired a meeting of the officers to discuss the matters that caused delay in supply and distribution of relief goods.

No minister attended the meeting especially Food Minister Jam Mahatab Dahar, who is the incharge of the department of food grains. He was missing not only from the meeting but from the scene in Thar area where Prime Minister, PPP c-chairman Bilawal Bhutto, CM Sindh and others visiting the affected people.

Surprisingly, the chief minister has not used any remark about negligence on part of his government machinery in timely distribution of wheat for famine-hit people of Thar. However, this time, he reminded the efforts through meetings he chaired, last year, to review the relief efforts in advance for the Thari people.

Qaim, in defensive position, argued that likewise previous practice, we started our initiatives for arranging relief for the people of Tharparkar in November 2013 and concluded the decisions in the meeting held on December 13, 2013. The meeting was attended by all the stakeholder organisations, in which Food Department was directed to supply 60,000 wheat bags to the godowns of district Tharparkar at the earliest. Besides the Provincial Relief Department had asked to start distribution of wheat as soon as they receive the stock of wheat.

In an attempt to shift the responsibility from the shoulders of the elected government especially from the ministers, he said the government had to decide and provide the sources but officers were the only machinery of the government to implement the decisions.

However, the CM while expressing displeasure over delay in supply and distribution of relief goods to the drought affected people has directed the Sindh chief secretary to conduct impartial inquiry against the relevant departments/officers by submitting the initial report to him within three days.

Qaim said the PPP was with the people of Thar and would not leave them alone in this difficult time. He said at present the distribution of relief goods and work to provide medical cover to the people of Tharparkar was in ‘full swing’ and hopefully in the shortest possible time, the situation would be normalised.

Sindh Livestock Minister Jam Khan Shoro while briefing the meeting informed that in addition to 124 cattle vaccination centres at district Tharparkar, 15 more mobile teams are working there for the last 3-4 months. “During the period they have made carpet vaccination especially of Sheep and totally controlled the sheep pox disease. Out of 1.1 million population of sheep, 0.5 million sheep have so far been vaccinated,” he added.

He informed the meeting that 90,000 fodder bags have been supplied to Tharparkar.

Meanwhile, it is expected that Sindh CM Qaim Ali Shah and other senior leaders and ministers will fly to Dubai to meet with the party’s co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari. The crucial decisions of change of portfolios or removal of some ministers especially Food Minister Jam Mahtab Dahar, Relief Minister Makhdoom Jamil Zaman and others from the provincial cabinet.