A division bench of the Sindh High Court’s Hyderabad circuit on Tuesday expressed its resentment over the delay in drainage of floodwater from Khairpur Nathan Shah while calling out Dadu deputy commissioner for the pace of the dewatering.
Floodwaters are constantly and rapidly receding in different parts of Dadu district as a result of the Sept 4 official “relief cut” — applied at the RD-14 dyke to ease the immense pressure on Manchhar Lake — and many breaches in canals and tributaries.
However, the worst-ever flooding in KN Shah, Bhan Syedabad, Johi and certain other parts of the district is yet to show any sign of normal life being restored in near future.
Record monsoon rains and glacial melt in Pakistan have triggered the flooding that has impacted nearly 33 million people, sweeping away homes, crops, bridges, roads and livestock in damages estimated at $30 billion.
Sindh is the worst-hit province so far, accounting for the most deaths and injuries. The province, where floodwaters descending from the country’s north and hill torrents from Balochistan have converged to give rise to a health crisis, has seen thousands displaced by deluges and now being inflicted by various diseases, mainly water-borne.
Multiple petitions were filed at the SHC Hyderabad bench on the dewatering process in KN Shah and other nearby villages.
A contempt plea was filed against Dadu DC, DG Health Sindh Dr Mohammad Juman Bahoto, Dadu district health officer Dr Ahmed Ali Samejo and medical superintendent taluka hospital KN Shah Dr Sikandar Naich for allegedly failing to provide facilities to the flood-affected people. The court had conducted a hearing into the case on Sep 21 and also summoned officials on Sep 27.
The plea was filed by advocate Altaf Sachal Awan.
At the outset of the hearing on Tuesday, the bench comprising Justice Mohammad Iqbal Kalhoro and Justice Amjad Ali Sahtio asked KN Shah Assistant Commissioner Sonu Khan Chandio to contact Dadu DC and seek the time frame for disposal of water drainage and warned of his arrest in case of his failure to do so.
KN Shah assistant commissioner appeared before the court on behalf of Dadu DC. The deputy commissioner was due to turn up at the court in person as a contempt of court notice was issued to him besides others on a plea.
“How can you make compliance of orders when you have even don’t read court’s previous orders?”, Justice Kalhoro asked KN Shah assistant commissioner.
The AC responded that the deputy commissioner was in Dadu due to the expected arrival of the prime minister.
“The PM is coming for a photo session and the DC is present there”, Justice Kalhoro resented.
He added: “We need to know what kind of medicines are provided to people affected by rains as well as how many funds have been released and how many relief camps have been set up [in Dadu]”.
The assistant commissioner also presented visual proof of works being undertaken by his department in flood-hit areas of the district. To which, the court remarked that the pictures provided by him seemed to show as if officials were “having a picnic in the area”.
Justice Kalhoro referred to the AC, saying “you should hire a photographer for taking photos during rescue work. Your selfies suggest you were having fun there.”
He said SHC wanted to know about the strategy being employed to drain floodwater from KN Shah. “You people are waiting for water to recede on its own. What is your plan to drain out water from K N Shah?”, the court asked the AC as he preferred a keep a mum throughout the proceedings.
“We will ask the senior superintendent of police to take the deputy commissioner in custody,” Justice Kalhoro warned.
The judge told the assistant commissioner to contact the over the phone and return to court in an hour’s time to share the response of the DC following the court’s directions.
The applicant had prayed to the court to initiate contempt proceedings against contemnors for violation of Sept 13 court orders in which the orders were issued for the installation of dewatering machines in KN Shah, as well as the establishment of medical camps in flood-affected areas of Dadu district.