Multan-The flood-hit communities of Rajanpur and Dera Ghazi Khan have started returning to their villages and towns whether flattened or partially damaged that were triggered by the monsoon rains never witnessed in decades.

“All we want now is to get a new start, to rebuild our lives afresh,” said Abdur Rauf Sheikh, a middle-aged man doing furniture business in Fazalpur city. “My business was safe as the shop was located in the eastern side spared by floods but my home recently bought for Rs2.5 million in the western part of the city endured high gushing water waves which later settled to a height of five feet,” he added.

Director General, Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), Faisal Fareed told APP that the floods left a tale of pain, agony and sorrows adding that the government was fully aware of the volume of destruction. He said the compensation payment to the affected people would be “swift and hassle-free” to help them rebuild their lives. It would be disbursed transparently under the modern computerized process without human intervention, he added.

Both federal and provincial governments sprang into action to provide initial necessary aid to the flood-affected people. According to BISP zonal director Sheikh Amin, nearly 150,000 families from flood-hit areas in the south zone of Punjab have been provided Rs25000 each under Prime Minister’s Flood Relief Package. He said that disbursement of cash assistance was carried out at 28 BISP camp sites in flood-hit areas of south Punjab under the federal government. 

Overall, nearly a million flood-hit people (992,206 to be accurate) have received over Rs24.8 billion, @ Rs25,000 cash assistance per person, from the federal government in all flood-hit areas of the country till Sep 16, the BISP official said. He said that over 87 per cent of the process is complete and rest would be done shortly, he added. The Punjab government also provided compensation of heirs of those died in flood besides those injured in addition to carrying out relief operations.

Belongings of the people were floating in western half of Fazalpur city, the only urban area in Punjab submerged by hill torrents from Suleman Mountain Range. The hill torrents maintained their ferocity despite the fact they had covered 70 kilometres before entering Fazalpur city, he said adding that water has receded now leaving his home damaged with cracks in walls and floor.  Now the people, whose homes were wiped out by floods, were looking for something, some signs or remains, to find the piece of land where their homes once existed, he added. 

He said district administration, rescue 1122, other departments and Pakistan Army equipped with machinery were able to divert the water flow to some other direction.

Total 191 people died in Punjab due to monsoon rains and subsequent flooding it caused, majority of them men (94) besides 50 children and 47 women in six districts of Punjab including 49 in D G Khan and 23 Rajanpur, according to daily update from PDMA. Another 3858 people were injured including 3177 in Rajanpuir, 562 in Dera Ghazi Khan and 5 in Mianwali. 

Floods affected total of 678 Mauzas including 176 in Rajanpur, 366 in D G Khan, 16 in Mianwali, 24 in Muzaffargarh, 7 in Sialkot, and 89 in Layyah. Exactly 47 Mauzas or villages of Rajanpuir district were still under inundation. Floods affected a population of 673,970 in above mentioned six districts, most of them in Rajanpur and D G Khan and affected an area of over 1.3 million acres including crop area measuring 744,998 acres including over 600,000 acres in Rajanpur and D G Khan districts.

Total 36477 houses were damaged partially in the six districts including 22,859 in Rajanpur, and 8635 in Dera Ghazi Khan while another 23,764 houses were destroyed completely including 11301 in Rajanpur and 9319 in D G Khan. Over 900 kilometres long 124 roads were damaged including 94 in Rajanpur and 30 in D G Khan. Moreover, 13 bridges, 25 canals, 13 embankments, 98 shops, 35 hotels, 103 schools and seven health centres were damaged by floods in the two districts. 

Over 133,211 small animals, 67,456 big animals perished in Rajanpur while another 2641 small animals and 1460 big animals died in D G Khan. However, 12,488 animals were evacuated to safety and over 300,000 were vaccinated in the two districts.

A total of 70 relief camps were set up in the two districts but now only three camps were operational hosting 1922 people from 320 families in Rajanpur district. Most of the people have returned to their homes and those who had their homes wiped out or damaged have installed tents there which they were provided by the government and NGOs for temporary shelter, Faisal Fareed said. He said, so far nearly 150,000 persons have been provided medical aid in the two districts hit by floods.

Additional Chief Secretary South Punjab Capt (Retd) Saqib Zafar said that over 36000 tents, 85000 food hampers, 3000 blankets, nearly 20,000 mosquito nets besides kitchen sets, cots (Charpoy), thousands of bottles and cans of mineral water were distributed among the affected families in south Punjab. 

He said that survey of the damages caused by floods to property including homes, cattle heads and crops was underway and it would be completed soon to trigger the process of payment of compensation. He said government was also making efforts to resume school education facilities in the flood-hit districts to avoid any further waste of time of the children.

DG PDMA Faisal Fareed said that relief activities were in progress adding that in addition to PDMA, numerous aid agencies, NGOs were delivering food, other essential items besides tents and medicines. “But their requirements changing as the time passes by,” he said adding that now the flood hit people need medicines and most importantly the blankets as the winter was approaching fast.

He said that survey teams were busy in conducting survey and added that the process would be completed soon. He said that after completion of survey, virtual accounts of flood affected people would be opened in the Bank of Punjab from where they would be able to receive their compensation after showing their computerised national identity cards and verification. “There will be no delay. Compensation would reach the deserving persons soon”, he added.