Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani Chairs Pre-Monsoon Coordination Meeting
Islamabad: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said as the monsoon season is about to set in, we need to analyze and highlight the factors that jolted us in the past and then to work out a strategy to face any possible challenges. Accurate early warning, he added, for flood forecasting and proper institutional arrangements to handle this natural calamity will reduce its effects, he added.
The Prime Minister was chairing a special pre-monsoon coordination meeting at the PM’s Secretariat this afternoon. This was the first ever pre-monsoon coordination meeting to review the preparedness for any eventuality during the forthcoming following monsoons.
In his opening remarks the Prime Minister said we should not restrict flood management to only the safety of dam structures but should also focus on accurate and timely flood forecasting and its wide and timely dissemination to the public so that evacuation of the affected people and relief measures are carried out in time.
The capacity building, he said of the organizations dealing with flood relief, management of escape channels for barrages and Headworks, safety of protective bunds, realignment of important channels for release of excessive water, and development of alternate road links are major activities in this regard. The emergency services, at national, provincial, and district level, he added, must be coordinated well in time so that there is no wastage of resources.
He expressed confidence that with the collective efforts and commitment of us all, we will be better prepared to handle any adverse situation that may rise during, and after, the monsoons.
While elaborating upon the purpose of the pre-monsoon coordination meeting, the Prime Minister said, the aim of this meeting is to plan for mitigation of effects of the damage that may come due to heavy monsoon and to prepare relief and assistance to the affected people.
The Prime Minister gave the following directions during the meeting:-
i. The Prime Minister directed Cabinet Division and NDMA to develop a comprehensive plan and sustainable systems so that in case of any disaster, Pakistan should not be looking for assistance and help from foreign countries.
ii. The Prime Minister asked the Pakistan Meteorological Department to approach their counterparts in the developed countries especially China to help them in the forecasting of possible floods.
iii. The Prime Minister directed the Ministry of Water and Power to hold a coordination meeting to prepare a joint strategy in consultation with experts and the Provincial Governments to identify specific points for breaches of bunds, if needed, during the upcoming Monsoon season. The people at their own, he asserted, should not be allowed to breach any canal or bund during the possible floods.
iv. The Prime Minister directed Chairman, NDMA, Secretaries Communication, Water and Power and other heads of concerned organizations to personally visit different vulnerable areas to examine possibility of amending the ongoing infrastructure projects so that these could absorb the pressure of floods.
v. The Prime Minister stressed upon all the participants to ensure the availability of relief goods and items at the district level to meet the needs during possible emergency. He also directed that sectorial meetings for coordination among stakeholders should also be held to assess the needs and shortcomings in order to prepare in advance for any eventuality. The sectorial meetings of Health, Water and Power and Communications, he said, are essential prior to the upcoming monsoon season.
vi. The Prime Minister also asked the Chief Secretaries of four Provinces as well as AJ and K and Gilgit Baltistan to inspect the primary bunds in their respective areas and utilize helicopters if necessary.
vii. The Prime Minister emphasized that the capacity of District Disaster Management Authorities (DDMAs) must be made more effective to cater for any emergency and even create tiers of the set up at Tehsil levels.
Earlier, the Chairman, NDMA through a presentation apprised the participants of the lessons learnt from past experiences and the strategy prepared for the future. He also highlighted the issues and challenges being faced to minimize the damages in case of floods. While elaborating the recommendations, he stressed upon clearance of Katchi Abadies and encroachments alongwith the river beds which create obstructions both for flow of flood waters as well as relief work. He assured that sufficient relief goods and items are available to meet the needs for any future eventuality. He, however, mentioned that there is shortage of health kits for which they are approaching the concerned organizations.
The Director General, National Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Network (NHEPRN), in his briefing informed the meeting that they have a system in place to assess the needs and arranged provision of medical equipments / medicines. He apprised that the organization during the last floods had engaged 26000 national volunteers who have been trained to use the medical facilities for any possible epidemic. The requisite medicines, he added, for possible epidemic have been procured including those for immunization. He also said that clean drinking water kits are being prepared for different areas.
The Chief Secretaries of the Provinces and their representatives informed the meeting that the Provincial Disaster Management Authorities (PDMAs) and District Disaster Management Authorities (DDMAs) have already been established which are regularly holding coordination meetings for any emergency during the upcoming Monsoon season. The Chief Secretary of Punjab assured to help other Provinces as well in case of any emergency need. He mentioned that the primary bunds in Punjab have been strengthened while most of the river bed areas have been got cleared of temporary dwellings.
The Secretary Interior mentioned that all the civil armed forces have been put on alert to face any situation during the Monsoon season. The Secretary Water and Power mentioned that 44 Telemetry Stations throughout the country are completely functional and those which were damaged last year have been reconstructed. He further added that the Federal Flood Commission has already released the requisite funds to all the Provinces.
The Director General, Pakistan Meteorological Department informed the meeting that the equipments available with the department in certain areas have to be upgraded. The Northern Areas as well as the Coastal areas, he said, are not covered by the Radars available with the department for which they depend on other organizations.
The meeting was attended by Secretaries Cabinet/Health, Communications, Interior, Planning, Water and Power, Information, Chief Secretaries Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Home Secretary Gilgit Baltistan, Additional Chief Secretary AJ and K, Chairman Federal Flood Commission‘, DG National Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Network, DG Pakistan Metrological Department, Director General Provincial Disaster Management Authorities Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Gilgit Baltistan, FATA and other senior officers of Prime Minister’s Secretariat.
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