dailypeghamISLAMABAD:A parliamentary panel has expressed serious reservations over Sindh government’s failure to prevent infant mortality due to insufficient food and medicines in its eastern Tharparkar district despite spending billions of rupees in relief activities.

Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights on Wednesday expressed its concerns during a briefing in which the Sindh government said it had released sufficient funds for the area over the last two years.

According to the figures provided by the Sindh government, a total amount of Rs4,193,905 million was released for distribution of wheat bags in the district. An additional Rs294.870 million was released for transportation of wheat and other miscellaneous expenditures.

The rehabilitation department was given Rs1,768.500 million for relief and rehabilitation activities. The health department was given Rs2,010.881 million for health and hygiene and Umerkot district was handed Rs1,953.131 million for the same purpose.

The finance department released a grand total of Rs10,273.267 million for fodder and vaccination of livestock. An amount of Rs5 billion was released for provision of clean drinking water, said the province.

However, Senator Mohsin Khan Leghari, who chaired the meeting, asked as to why the issue had not been resolved despite the expenditure cited by the Sindh government.

“This is not the first time that we are hearing about these issues in Thar. It is a continuous crisis and something really needs to be done to address it,” he said.

Senator Sitara Ayaz highlighted the absence of disaster management authorities in the area. “If the money had actually been spent, the situation would not have been what it is today,”
she said.

Senator Nisar Muhammad lamented the fact that on the one hand the government was launching development projects worth billions of rupees and on the other, infants were losing lives due to malnutrition and unavailability to basic health facilities.

He called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to visit Tharparkar on an emergency basis.

“Barring foreign donor agencies and NGOs, what role is the provincial and federal government playing to manage the crisis,” he asked.

Members of the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), who visited Tharparkar recently, said they had noticed an acute shortage of doctors and basic health facilities.

They said besides malnutrition, there is also no arrangement for checkup of expectant mothers; and resultantly there is a high incidence of neo-natal and post-natal deaths. They noted that there were only 14 ambulances available for the entire population of Mirpur, Umerkot and Tharparkar.

In view of the poor communication infrastructure and shabby state of road links, the team recommended mobile referrals for administration of medicines and immunisation for preventable diseases among women and children.

Representatives from the Sindh government cited illiteracy, early marriages and unskilled hospital staff as causes of premature births. They said 58 per cent population of the area was poor and 40 per cent children were malnourished.

The NCHR Balochistan member Fazila Aliani said it was due to bureaucratic negligence that Thar, where 40 per cent of Hindu population resides, was being overlooked. She said funds for infant care were also not satisfactory. The committee asked officials of the Sindh government to brief them on the details of the hefty expenditures incurred on Tharparkar.

Investigation into killing

The meeting also inquired about the progress in the arrest of the killers of Senator Nasreen Jalil’s bodyguard. Jalil’s bodyguard, Abid was targeted along with his friend, Attique, and daughter last month. It was informed that the culprits had not been traced so far.

Security officials also revealed that there were a total of 2,200 CCTV cameras installed by the city government in Karachi. However, almost half of the cameras were out-of-order while some CCTV cameras had also been stolen.

The committee was told that there was a plan to repair the dysfunctional cameras. In the next fiscal year, the tenders for these cameras will be floated. There is a requirement of over 10,000 camera to cover the whole city and this project will cost at least Rs4 billion, the committee was told.