Victims of natural calamity await compensation

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PESHAWAR: On every alternate day, Shahpur, a fruit vendor visits the office of the Deputy Commissioner (DC) Peshawar to claim the compensation money the government owes him. So far, he has only received Rs 50,000.
“From every visit to the DC office I return home with new promises about the full payment of the compensation money. I know these are just tactics aimed at delaying the delivery of the compensation money,” says Shah.

Shahpur Khan lost his wife and four children when a vicious storm wrecked havoc on major parts of Peshawar and its surrounding areas on April 26, 2015.

“My entire family, including my wife, and four children, the biggest one 14 and the youngest only four days old, lost their battle of survival against the merciless storm,” Shah said with tears in his eyes.

At least 45 people – including women and children – lost their lives in the disaster, and more than 200 people were injured in what was declared as ‘mini-cyclone’ by the meteorological department.

Shah’s brother, who had also lost his two children, three-year-old son Yaseen and five-year-old daughter Rukhsar, is waiting to receive the compensation amount from the government.

“On their visit to sites damaged by the storm,the Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the Speaker Provincial Assembly Asad Qaiser made promises to build the damaged homes and give Rs 300,000 in compensation money to the survivors of the deceased. So far, none of the promises has been fulfilled,” said Shah.

According to the compensation policy of the KP government, Rs 300,000 each is given as compensation to heirs of the deceased while Rs 100,000 is earmarked for the injured. For a one-bed room home, destroyed in the cyclone, Rs 100,000 and for a two-bed room home Rs 80,000 is announced.

Chief Executive Officer of Movement for Social Action Human Rights & Leadership, Zafar Iqbal Khattak, while talking with the News Lens Pakistan said that those who had access to the officials of the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) or the Natural Disaster Management Authority, (NDMA) were compensated without hassle. Political reference had been the determining factor in deciding who gets the compensation money.

“The poor families that lacked political reference suffered the brunt of the government’s negligence while those with connections and political affiliations could scope out their share from the compensation pie with a relative ease,” Khattak added.

He informed that the KP Assembly’s lawmakers had been instrumental in getting the compensation money for their relatives and friends from the local administration and from the federal government as well.
In-charge Disaster Management, DC Peshawar, told the News Lens Pakistan that the families of 31 deceased persons out of 45 had been compensated so far. The rest had faulty national identity cards, therefore, could not be accommodated.

He further said that a survey was in progress to estimate the value of the property damaged and to assess the number of injured persons. Once this survey was completed, the compensation money would be doled out accordingly.

He informed the News Lens Pakistan that the government does not compensate the Afghans living in Peshawar against any loss incurred during natural calamity. If Afghans are complaining of being left out or not looked after financially then we are not answerable.

Minister for Information Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani, said that there had been a pattern to use donors’ aid for personal benefits by the government officials. However, he said his government was doing its best to get away of this moral scourge and put the money where it belongs.

He further said that the PDMA has very limited resources to deal with any natural disaster.

“In future, we will try to recruit police in managing disasters, which will strengthen the hands of the PDMA while providing additional support to the people. Our government has planned to equip PDMA with modern machinery and disaster management techniques”, said Ghani.

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