Seven more children die in Thar, drought toll rises to 27

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MITHI: At least seven more children lost their lives in the drought-hit Thar desert, raising the death toll to 27 this month, while at least 220 of them were admitted to several hospitals of the district for treatment on Friday.

Of the deceased children, four died in the remote villages of Nagarparkar, while one each in Mithi, Islamkot and Diplo, before they could be taken to hospitals.

Provincial food minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, who is also a member of the committee formed on Thursday by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah to look into the situation, reached Mithi town to visit the admitted children.

Later, talking to local journalists at the Deputy Commissioner’s office, he claimed that the Sindh government was “fully committed to provide maximum facilities” in the health units of the drought-hit desert.

Nasir Shah admitted that there was a drought-like situation but considered the media’s portrayal of the situation as “alarming” an exaggeration.

The Thar region of Sindh, which has climatic and ecological conditions similar to the Indian state of Rajasthan’s portion of Thar, faces severe droughts for two to three years in every 10-year cycle.

He expressed grief over the death of children and said that hospitals and health units would be given “top priority” by the five-member committee formed by Sindh government.

Nasir Shah also directed officials of the revenue department to suspend the ongoing collection of agriculture taxes from farmers and reimburse any taxes collected from them in recent days.

After receiving a detailed report from DC Tharparkar, the provincial minister said he would ask Qaim Ali Shah to declare Thar as drought-hit area and announce a relief package for the affected population, along with the monetary compensation for the heirs of the dying children.

Nasir Shah said he was looking into the matter and constantly receiving feedback from government officials. He said that all announcements made by the Sindh chief minister would “immediately be implemented”.

Furthermore, he said that the Thar Development Authority, envisaged and drafted by the Sindh government earlier after the deaths of the children in 2014, would be formed soon to develop proper infrastructure and civic facilities in the district and improve living standards of residents.

MNA Fakeer Sher Mohammad Bilalani, MPA Dr Mehesh Kumar Malani, Adviser to CM Inayat Rahimoon and other PPP officials were also present during the briefing.

However, members of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Thar Ittehad were not invited to the meeting by the local administration.

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