by Zulfiqar Ali Khan
HUNZA, Feb 7: The locals have complained of irregularities in distribution of relief goods among the landslide affected people of Hunza and Gojal.
They also criticised the VIPs for misuse of the helicopter service meant for transportation of the 25,000 stranded people of Gojal tehsil.
A number of people told Dawn that the government had not yet provided any relief to Gojal and helicopters were lifting goods of local traders. The big list of relief goods indicated in the reports of National Disaster Management Authorities (NDMA) does not match what has been provided to the affected people. It is said that these items had been stored by the concerned authorities in Gilgit.
The relief goods provided by the Punjab government have also not reached Hunza. People are questioning about the whereabouts of the relief goods. A major part of the relief goods has been provided by the Focus Humanitarian Assistance, Pakistan Red Crescent Society and other organisations. Similarly, the list of items provided to Gojal also raises questions whether the relief goods were provided free?
Although the NDMA gave a quick response to the disaster and provided helicopter service, however, local people are also critical of its role for reportedly denying the helping hands of international community including the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in order to assert its capacity of dealing with disasters.
The 26-member team of government officials and traders from Gojal retuned from China without major success to purchase major food and other items.
The announcement of Governor Gilgit-Baltistan Qamar Zaman Kaira to establish emergency operation unit in the only hospital of Gojal could not be materialised so far which risks the lives of the stranded people with emergencies specially women and children.
About 141 families comprised of 1,163 members of Atabad and Sarat are still waiting in school camps for permanent settlement.
The media is accused of ignoring the issue. Due to lack of commercial interest in the affected region, the electronic media has ignored the devastation in the geo-strategically important region, people say.
Locals have demanded of the government to declare Gojal a calamity-hit region as there “is no hope that the Karakoram Highway would be opened in the coming months”. [DAWN]