OFF and on meetings of Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) chaired by the Prime Minister are held to convey message that the body still exists, if not on the ground but at least on papers.
Saturday saw the PM once again directing the authority to complete remaining projects in areas devastated by 2005 earthquake on fast track basis.
ERRA was established soon after the 2005 earthquake with the mandate to carry out reconstruction and rehabilitation work in affected areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Kashmir.
To be fair, it must be said that the body did some commendable work in initial years of its inception and received applause from far and wide.
But then what and who put it in sleep mode is everybody’s guess, which needs to be probed into as this caused inordinate delay in completion of reconstruction work in affected areas.
During the meeting, Mr Khan was informed that ERRA has so far completed seventy five percent of its total development portfolio of 14704 projects, whereas fourteen percent of them are currently under construction.
These include 885 projects in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 1214 projects in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
This is a tale of sheer neglect and we will suggest an investigation as why all these projects faced delay that not only escalated their cost of completion but also added to woes of the affected families.
The tremor had completely flattened Balakot city and the government at that time had announced construction of New Balakot City but future of the project still hangs in balance after lapse of almost 16 years.
Responsibility rests with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to prioritise the project and formulate realistic timelines for each and every development activity there.
According to proposed Master Plan, New Balakot city will be established over an area of 8440 kanals of land and 6,753 residential plots will be developed.
The victims of old Balakot must be given free of cost plots and also compensated so that they could build their homes.
The whole process must be completed in fair and transparent manner. And most importantly, time has come for the government to decide the fate of ERRA, which in our view be merged into the NDMA.
Given the threats posed by climate change, disaster management authority must be equipped with necessary equipment and training to effectively deal with any calamity.