PESHAWAR: Expressing grief over destruction of a major road, houses and land in Reshun village by the river, former Member National Assembly from Chitral Shahzada Iftikharuddin on Saturday appealed to Chief Minister Mahmood Khan to personally intervene and provide relief to the affected people.
“It was an impending tragedy and the department concerned and officials had been informed time and again but no proper steps were taken to save the village and road from destruction. The chief minister must fix the responsibility and take action against the delinquent officials,” he said in his SOS.
The ex- MNA said that consistent floods in the Reshun River since 2015 that washed away 200 houses in July that year besides loss of precious lives pointed towards inadequate planning followed by extremely poor implementation.
“Just two months back huge amounts of fund were spent on diverting the water from the Mastuj River before the snow started to melt and residents of Reshun village complained that the government resources were wasted and their suggestions and concerns were never made part of the actual scheme execution despite assurances,” he added.
The warning letters of DC Upper Chitral to Commissioner Malakand and Chief Secretary KP went unheeded, he said and added that the repeated reminders of DC to the Relief and Rehabilitation Department as well as Chairman NHA about the impending threats to local agricultural lands and roads went unheeded.
“Now people have lost their houses and belongings due to substandard river diversion work and Irrigation and NHA authorities must be held accountable for not taking proactive measures as they had been forewarned about the threats posed by the rising river water,” he added.
He said the poor residents were rendered homeless, who also lost their agricultural lands and other precious possessions.
The former lawmaker said that 250,000 residents of Upper Chitral have been cut off from the rest of the country as the road has been washed away, creating a crisis-like situation. It had also disconnected the lines of communication in such a sensitive border district of northern Pakistan, he added.
Iftikharuddin said that everyone had been beseeching the Relief and Rehabilitation Department as well as Irrigation Department and NHA to take proactive measures as the repairs back then could have come at a fraction of the cost and now the new challenge would come only at 100 times more cost to the national exchequer.
“Unfortunately, now only stopgap measures can be taken since the river water is expected to rise and will expose the lands and houses and NHA Roads to further threats,” he added.
The ex-MNA said the steel bridge, which was installed in 2015 after the flash floods at Reshun for which the FWO was paid a hefty amount, has been taken back once the RCC bridge was constructed by the C&W Department.
The same bridge, the cost of which had been paid, could have been kept for emergency purposes to meet flood-like eventualities in other parts of the disaster prone Chitral, he added. He said that late Osama Warraich, an honest DC serving Chitral back in 2016, had resisted attempts to take away the steel bridge back then.