Feb 07

Crisis in quake affected areas over, life back to normal: ERRA

ISLAMABAD: A review conference was told here on Thursday that the period of crisis in the quake affected areas is over and the life has returned back to normal almost across the entire thirty thousand square kilometer of the affected areas.

In his address Chairman ERRA Altaf Mohammad Saleem while updating the ambassadors and heads of the partner organizations on the progress made so far in the area said that the reconstruction process has reached a point that would lead towards transformation of the affected areas into modern hubs of socio-economic activities in the region.

Referring to the high rate of conversion of pledges made by the international community in the first donors’ conference the he said it reflects the confidence of the international community and the donor agencies in the quality and pace of work in the affected areas and the transparency in ERRA’s operational systems. He said that health, education, communications, water, sanitation and other facilities are fully functional, while new modern facilities are being built speedily under the vision of “Build Back Better”.

Altaf Saleem observed that a big change is seen in the construction of quality and over half a million people are now connected with the reconstruction business. This has ushered a new era of economic activities in the area which would help improve the living standards of people. He thanked the world community for their generous support, and assured that the people and the government of Pakistan with support of the international community would continue its efforts to provide better facilities to the affectees.

Briefing the participants, Deputy Chairman ERRA Lt. General Nadeem Ahmed said that the Livelihood Programme has not only enabled to check any food security issue in the entire earthquake affected area but also promoted optimum use of agricultural land, cultivation of value-added products instead of conventional crops and use of better seeds and fertilizer that has resulted in increased farm output. He said that a total of Rs 5.34 billion at the rate of Rs 3000 per month, six months and to most vulnerable families for one year have so far been disbursed among 268,000 families.

He said that 100 per cent people now have a housing solution. The housing strategy, he said, largely helped in documentation of local economy, seismically resistant construction culture, increased capacity building through training programs, improved standard of living- from mud houses to proper houses, and increased community participation through Village Reconstruction Committees.

The Deputy Chairman said that in Rural Housing Sector a total amount of Rs 53.59 billion has been disbursed among over 576,000 beneficiaries of damaged houses. In Urban Housing disbursement of Rs 2.06 billion to over 25000 beneficiaries has been made. He informed that out of 5344 damaged units, 125 have been completed, 773 are under construction and 1110 are under tendering while 2075 are under various stages of planning.

He said that due to the ERRA’s education strategy, there is a visible improvement in examination results, increased enrollment especially of girls in remote areas, improvement in learning environment and enhancement of teaching skills and school management system due to soft interventions.

In the Health sector, out of a total of 307 damaged facilities, 183 are being planned, 32 have been completed and 59 other are under construction, he informed. He said due to improved and additional health facilities along with requisite staff, better service delivery is being witnessed in the affected areas.

Lt. General Nadeem Ahmed said the road network is also getting a considerable uplifting as three national highways, 46 provincial roads and 29 bridges are under construction with an estimated cost of Rs 7.5 billion. He said that the construction of 175 kilometer of damaged highway is underway with a price tag of near six billion rupees this year. According to the revised plan, over 29 billion rupees have been envisaged to reconstruct 2393 kilometers of roads.

Describing the water supply projects, the Deputy Chairman said that out of a total of 4080 damaged schemes, 1128 have already been completed at a cost of Rs 0.385 billion, 717 schemes are under construction, 119 under tendering stage and 1316 are under designing. Twenty five sanitation and 23 solid waste management schemes are under various stages of construction, he added. He further informed that 949 government building have been planned, 281 high priority building have been approved, while 195 are under construction at a cost of Rs 1.725 billion.

He said that in the power sector, Rs 1.55 billion is being spent for the restoration and construction of infrastructure. In the Telecom sector, he said, infrastructure restoration and reconstruction is underway with a cost of Rs 630 million. He said that Rs 1.03 billion are being spent on a comprehensive Environment Recovery plan including debris removal, water shed management, agro-forestry, slope stabilization and awareness creation among the masses.

Concluding his briefing, Lt. General Nadeem Ahmed said an all encompassing, social protection program has also been launched which includes compensation for landless at a cost of three billion rupees, establishment of Legal Aid Centers at a cost of Rs 30 million and medical rehabilitation for disables at a cost of Rs 742 million.-SANA

Feb 04

Dozens killed by earthquakes in Rwanda and Congo

Two earthquakes struck hours apart in Rwanda and neighbouring Congo, killing at least 39 people, and injuring 380. A magnitude-6.0 quake struck Congo early on Sunday, according to the US Geological Survey. The second quake, which registered 5.0, hit a few hours later near the countries’ border in Rwanda’s rural Rusizi district.

“I was at home when the earthquake hit and the next thing I heard was the house falling down,” said Florence Nyiranzoga, who was airlifted to the Rwandan capital, Kigali, for treatment of her injuries. Asuma Mujawase, another victim, who was also airlifted to Kigali, said the death toll was sure to rise.

“I am sure very many people are going to die,” she said, adding that the hospital near the quake’s center was full and “people were scattered in the hospital compound.” In Rwanda, 34 people were killed and 231 wounded, according to the country’s ministry of health. Frank Mugambage, an official in the president’s office, said several people were killed when their church collapsed. Rescuers were searching for more victims.

Across the border in the lakeside Congolese city of Bukavu, the mayor Raisi Kunda said five people were killed and 149 injured. Kunda said many homes, as well as schools and churches, were damaged in the city, but the extent was not immediately clear.

The area where the earthquakes hit is part of Africa’s Great Rift Valley, which includes a seismically active fault line. The tremors from the quake in Rwanda shook the capital, Kigali, some 125 miles away from the Rusizi district.
Source: Guardian

Feb 03

Rawalpindi-Islamabad jolted

ISLAMABAD: An earthquake of moderate intensity was felt in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad with a magnitude of 4.0 on richter scale Sunday evening.

People in some localities rushed out of their homes after the earthquake. The quake was recorded by Meteorological Centre Peshawar at 17:49 hours. The epicenter of the tremor lied about 180 km east of Peshawar in the province of Punjab.-SANA