THARPARKAR - Dearth does not give up to startle life in Thar as another child fell prey to it in Chacharu mounting the death toll to 97 on Thursday.

Another child was referred to the hospital in Umar Kot in the wake of critical condition whereas 35 children are ailing at the hands of malnutrition. The people of Thar got accosted with further trouble with the changing weather conditions while the Chachru administration has brought the supply of wheat to a standstill.

Earlier, it was reported that administration's negligence over the matter had increased the problems of the residents.

Tharparkar has seen an alarming number of children suffering pneumonia or diarrhoea due to a dangerous mix of drought, poverty and poor health infrastructure. The deaths have prompted criticism for the Pakistan People’s Party, which governs in Sindh.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah said that children used to die earlier also but nobody took notice of the deaths at that time.

The affectees in many areas are still looking for wheat that is sent as aid.

The issue of potable water still exists even after a grant of Rs20 million for a population of 15,000 people in Chahchro. Hundreds of wells have dried up and the people do not have access to potable water.

The CM said that the Sindh government is giving free-of-cost wheat for the affectees.

The situation of drought is showing no signs of abating and has claimed around at least 500 lives in three years. Life in the desert is closely tied to rain-dependent crops and animals, with farmers relying on beans, wheat and sesame seeds for survival. They barter any surplus for livestock. There are few health care facilities in the area, and families must travel substantial distances to seek treatment. Ambulance services are reportedly very rarely provided for these children, forcing parents to travel long distances to take their children to hospital. Reportedly five to six dozens children are still under treatment in Mithi hospital.

Tharparkar is spread over 22,000 square kilometres, with a population of about 1.5 million people. On average, every third year is a drought year. The region faces famine at least once every decade.

More than 80 percent of the people’s livelihood is dependent on rain-fed agriculture and livestock. In fact, livestock, fully or partially, contributes to the economy of every household in the district. The dry spell in Tharparkar District — which has been ongoing over the last three years (2012-2014) — continues to deprive local growers of their main crops: cluster beans and millet. And the prolonged drought conditions have forced different community groups, especially those who maintain small landholdings and family livestock, to migrate to neighbouring areas in search of livelihood.

On the other hand, Syed Qaim Ali Shah while talking to media had brushed aside allegations of slackness, negligence and incompetence of his government. He said it had realised the situation in November and started taking measures to meet the situation. He said there was little substance in reports of deaths of children in the district due to drought. He asked if the deaths were caused by the famine, why only infants and not a single child of 10 years or above had died from hunger. “There is no proof of a single death from hunger,” he said.

The PPP-led Sindh government is being severely criticised by its political rival over its slackness, negligence and incompetence regarding the challenge of Tharparkar drought. An inquiry report over the mismanagement of the recent drought situation in Tharparkar District had also revealed internal rifts and lack of coordination within the different tiers of the PPP and the provincial government.