SHC seeks detailed reports on Thar situation

KARACHI: Taking great exception to deteriorating situation in Thar, the Sindh High Court directed the federal and provincial governments on Wednesday to submit detailed reports outlining their efforts to contend with the issues faced by drought affected people and mitigate their sufferings.

Headed by Chief Justice Maqbool Baqar, a division bench had taken up the petitions filed by Pakistan Institute of Labour and Education Research (PILER) and other NGOs, through which they sought action against the authorities concerned for their failure to provide relief and health facilities to the people of famine-hit Tharparkar.

After going through the reports submitted by district and session judges of Tharparkar and Umerkot districts, chief secretary Sindh and health secretary, the judges noted that the reports revealed the situation in Thar has perhaps deteriorated further.

Earlier, the court had directed the judges of Tharparkar and Umerkot to conduct an enquiry into the effectiveness of the relief operation being carried out in the affected areas.

In compliance with the court order, district and sessions Judge Umerkot submitted his report, stating Sindh government has not taken serious efforts for filling the vacant posts of doctors, paying compensation to drought victims, releasing funds for the potable water supply schemes in famine-hit areas.

He pointed out that several posts of doctors, civil surgeons, gynecologists, pediatricians and other medical specialists were lying vacant in Umerkot hospital, adding 130 doctors were serving against the sanctioned strength of 401.

The judge, who visited the DHQ Umerkot along with other judges found 23 children under treatment at the hospital but not a single pediatrician was posted there. “Patients are suffering a lot due to unavailability of civil surgeon, physician, pathologist, skin specialist, gynecologist, radiologist and other health specialists. On enquiry, head of DHQ said the posts were lying vacant since 2007.” The judge added, “a X-ray machine had not working since last two years. Low quality medicines were available at the all government hospitals and health centers.”

He said out of 29 rural health centers, basic health units and government dispensaries established in the drought-hit areas of Umerkot, 18 were not functioning properly.

Mian Fayyaz Rabbani, senior civil judge Mithi, who was appointed relief inspecting judge, quoted the civil surgeon as saying that 319 deaths occurred from January 2014 to October 2014, out of which 188 under five years child died due to low birth weight pre term birth, Asphyxias/Respiratory distress (RDS).

He said deaths of the men, women and children occurred due to poverty and also thousands of animals had died and thousands of people had shifted to barrage area. He said owing to lack of nutrition during pregnancy, proper care and food the pregnant ladies give births to weak child before time of birth.

The judge said that the district administration has not taken the preventive action in advance to face this critical situation and the relief packages provided by the federal and provincial government have not been distributed amongst the drought affected people transparently and fairly and the local administration showed favouritism.

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