Friday, November 13, 2015

Endless turmoil: Four more survivors die in earthquake aftermath in K-P

November 26 new deadline to complete distribution of cheques, says govt spokesperson Mushtaq Ghani. PHOTO: REUTERS

by  Sohail Khattak:

Another child, a three-year-old girl, living in a tent in Shangla died of the cold on Thursday. Three other earthquake and weather related deaths were reported amid announcements from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Government Spokesperson Mushtaq Ghani that the deadline to complete distribution of aid has been pushed further ahead to November 26.

Speaking at the Civil Secretariat on Thursday, Ghani said the PTI-led government has released Rs8.5 billion for the districts affected by the October 26 earthquake. He added Rs2.5 billion of this amount has been distributed while the remaining amount will be distributed by November 26.

The K-P government spokesperson drew attention to a range of challenges regarding the payment of compensation among the affected population.

Ghani said there have been countless delays in the release of funds promised by the federal government.

“The PML-N government has promised to contribute 50% towards compensation money,” he said. “We are expecting the federal government to release the money within a few days.”

Meanwhile, senior members of the coalition government have cast serious doubts on the provincial government’s ability to tackle relief efforts on its own.

Other problems cited by Ghani include fake claims. “Some people have made false claims to obtain compensation,” he said. “We have registered FIRs against some people and investigation is under way,” he said. “The cheques are meant for those who are entitled to it. We cannot forgive anyone who deprives affectees of their rights.”

Earlier, National Disaster Management Authority issued directives to all district management authorities to verify all compensation.

False compensation claims are punishable with imprisonment of two years, a fine or both under the National Disaster Management Act of 2010, Chapter X, Para 34.

According to Ghani, seven such cases have surfaced in Shangla, four in Swat and two in Tank as yet.

“Moreover, the Haripur DC has cancelled 1,683 applications for compensation,” he said. “It has also come to my notice that local government representatives from PTI have been issuing compensation cheques to their own people rather than the affectees.”

The spokesperson added, “Nearly 217 families who lost their loved ones on October 26 have been compensated,” he said. “The remaining families are facing a few legal complications and their documents are being verified.”

He added 368 people who were wounded in the earthquake have also been compensated. Ghani said a large number of houses and schools had been destroyed in hard-to-reach areas and inclement weather conditions are making it all the more difficult to assess the level of damage.

Death and disease

A three-year-old girl died of pneumonia in Alpuri, Shangla. An official privy to the development said the girl was living in a tent and died Thursday morning. Her identity could not be ascertained.

“The DC office might be hiding from reality,” said the official. When contacted, officials of the district administration denied receiving any information about the incident.

In a separate incident, a minor was killed while three others were injured in a roof collapse incident in Chakesar.

Besham AC Javed Iqbal said the deceased was identified as 10-year-old Zahir. “The roof collapsed due to heavy rain,” he said. “The injured have been identified as Bakht Ferosha, Sultan Zaib and Shahid Khan.” According to locals, the house had been damaged in the earthquake but the family had not been provided a tent by the government.

A three-year-old minor and his mother reportedly died when the roof of their house collapsed in Hangu district. Imran told the police his house was damaged in the earthquake and the roof was reconstructed with the assistance from the government. However, the roof collapsed once again. As a result, three-year-old son Zeeshan and his wife died on the spot.
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