Absence of local govt to impede flood relief work: Kamal

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Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) Chairman Syed Mustafa Kamal has said that without an effective local government system, the flood-induced situation will get more dreadful in the coming days as many more may die of cold and hunger in the aftermath of the floods.

Addressing a press conference at the Pakistan House, the PSP secretariat, on Saturday, Kamal said the recent floods had caused more damage than the devastating earthquake of 2005, but the prime minister, chief minister and senior officials would only be able to make an estimation of the devastation without the local governments.

The ground reality could only be assessed by representatives of the local governments, a system which did not exist in Sindh for the past two years, he added.

He also shared his apprehension that around 90 per cent of the funds released for relief operations would be embezzled, with impunity.

Kamal also lamented that the people of Karachi were not able to pay the fuel adjustment charges due to rising inflation and many had been committing suicide because of financial issues.

The K-Electric (KE) must not test the patience of the people of Karachi, he remarked and warned that if any consumer’s power supply was cut off over non-payment of fuel adjustment charges, the PSP would resist in the strongest possible way.

He went on to claim that on the pretext of helping the flood victims in Karachi, the mafia had started to occupy lands. Law enforcement agencies should take immediate notice of the situation, he said.

Kamal also announced that the PSP had converted the Pakistan House into the main relief camp of the PSP Foundation.

He said everyone was making different estimates regarding the losses caused by the floods because no one was on ground to reach out and provide relief to the victims. Only strong local governments could have provided a reliable estimate in such a situation but the so-called democratic governments had not allowed the local governments to flourish in the country, he added.

The PSP chairman remarked that currently MNAs and MPAs had been supervising relief activities in their respective areas but only the village councillor could tell who needed what in their area. He stated that this was the reason the PSP had been demanding empowered local bodies but nobody paid heed to the demand, as a consequence of which we had been facing dire consequences today.

He reiterated the PSP’s demand for making three constitutional amendments for launching the provincial finance commission award, clearing identifying the powers of the mayors and stipulating that general elections could not be held prior to the local government elections.

Establishment of welfare states was not possible without local governments, Kamal said. He called for implementing a uniform local government system throughout the country so that the chief ministers could not interpret the Article 140-A as they wished, making the local governments ineffective.

He said the flood destruction that had already happened was just the beginning as many of the affected families were living in the open.

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