May 02

UN hails pace of reconstruction in quake hit areas

ISLAMABAD: The United Nations has hailed the pace of reconstruction activities in the earthquake affected areas of AJK and NWFP. Addressing a news conference in Islamabad on Friday, Country Director UN-Habitat Jean Christopher Adrian described the housing reconstruction programme as a role model for the international community to cope with the future disasters.

Recognizing the unprecedented success of ERRA in the affected areas, Christopher Adrian said its owner driven approach of giving money to the affectees’ ensured speed in reconstruction of safer homes. He said about two hundred and forty thousand houses have so far been completely rebuilt while the remaining would be completed by the end of this year.

About his organization’s future plans for Pakistan, he said they are planning to start a series of activities in the water and sanitation sector, besides ensuring a better living condition for the residents of Kachi Abadis.

Apr 27

ERRA Monitoring and Evaluation 2007 Ceremony

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Chairman ERRA Altaf Muhammad Saleem addressing at the launching ceremony of the ERRA Monitoring and Evaluation 2007 on April 25, 2008

Apr 27

Not payment to quake affectees is injustice: Turabi

ISLAMABAD: Former Amir Jamaat-e-Islami AJK and EX. Member AJK Assembly Abdur Rashid Turabi has said stopping payment to earthquake stricken people of Bagh and Azad Jummu and Kashmir is injustice as the rules and regulations regarding the payment has been issued when majority of the affectees has built their houses.

In a letter to the Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani, he has said that problems of the affectees should be immediately resolved, otherwise, they would organize a long March on May 11. In the letter Abur Rashid Turabi says, “The Fault is on the part of ERRA and other concerned officials as they have been issuing different code of conduct on different occasions.” He writes that the affectees are more perplexed when authorities apply double standard in this regard.

A strong protest was already staged under the auspices of Awami Action Forum Bagh and the authorities were urged to resolve the issue but no sincere effort had been made, he added. He hoped that the new government under dynamic leadership of the Prime Minister will take stock of the situation immediately. It is pertinent to mention that ERRA has stopped payment to the affectees on pretext that the residents have not used blocks of certain size.

Apr 26

PM asks ERRA to complete work within given timeframe

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Youssuf Raza Gillani has directed Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) to expedite reconstruction and rehabilitation activities in the earthquake affected areas and complete the work within the given timeframe.

He was chairing a special meeting here on Saturday that reviewed the performance of ERRA regarding reconstruction and rehabilitation. The Prime Minister also asked ERRA to involve elected representatives while giving final shape to the proposals regarding reconstruction activities.

He stressed the need for ensuring transparency accountability and international validity of the reconstruction process in the affected areas. The Prime Minister decided to hold ERRA Council meeting every month instead of three month with a view to speed up the whole reconstruction process and ease out the affected people. He approved seven hundred million rupees for land acquisition in new Balakot city. He also directed the AJK and NWFP governments to allocate money for maintenance of the new facilities in their respective areas to benefit the people in long run.

He asked ERRA to bring complete and solid suggestions regarding construction of new Balakot city in the next meeting of the council. Earlier, Chairman and Deputy Chairman of ERRA gave detail briefing regarding reconstruction activities in the Earthquake affected areas.

The Deputy Chairman informed the Prime Minister that reconstruction activities would be completed by April next year. He said ERRA was working with the concerned governments in twelve sectors of reconstruction. He said town planning for Muazaffarabad, Bagh, Rawalakot and new Balakot cities had been finalized.He said so far over two billion rupees had been disbursed to the people to reconstruct their homes.

He informed the meeting that 3,56,451 houses had been completed while 1,63,747 would be completed shortly. Similarly he said 5,343 educational institutions, 307 health facilities and 4080 water supplies and sanitations schemes would be completed by the end of current financial year. The Deputy Chairman said that according to initial estimates reconstruction required four point three billion dollars but due to price escalation one point four billion dollars would more be needed. End-SANA-IM

Apr 26

Turabi urges PM not to stop payment to quake affectees

Former Amir Jamaat-e-Islami AJK and EX. Member AJK Assembly Abdur Rashid Turabi has said stopping payment to earthquake stricken people of Bagh and Azad Jummu and Kashmir is injustice as the rules and regulations regarding the payment has been issued when majority of the affectees has built their houses.

In a letter to the Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani, he has said that problems of the affectees should be immediately resolved, otherwise, they would organize a long March on May 11. In the letter Abur Rashid Turabi says, “The Fault is on the part of ERRA and other concerned officials as they have been issuing different code of conduct on different occasions.” He writes that the affectees are more perplexed when authorities apply double standard in this regard.

A strong protest was already staged under the auspices of Awami Action Forum Bagh and the authorities were urged to resolve the issue but no sincere effort had been made, he added. He hoped that the new government under dynamic leadership of the Prime Minister will take stock of the situation immediately.

Apr 21

New govt serious about reconstruction of quake-hit areas: Saleem

ISLAMABAD: Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) Chairman Altaf Saleem has said the new government is actively pursuing the reconstruction of quake-hit areas in NWFP and Azad Kashmir. Addressing a conference here on Saturday, he assured the donors that the development projects started in the affected areas will be implemented and completed within the prescribed time frame.

Giving a detailed account of the achievements made so far in the quake affected areas; Deputy Chairman Nadeem Ahmad said that more than Rs.57.50 had been disbursed among the affectees for their rehabilitation and reconstruction of houses. He said the housing programme will be completed by June this year. He said the authority had also distributed about five billion rupees to the vulnerable people under the livelihood cash grant programme.

Nadeem Ahmad said significant progress had also been made in the health, education, sanitation, water supply and road infrastructure projects. He said a programme had been envisaged to construct roads at a cost of twenty nine million rupees. Referring to the concerns shown by some organizations, he said the security situation in the affected areas was improving after the new government took charge.

Donors — various organizations — appreciated the reconstruction activities and said they will facilitate the new government and ERRA for the successful completion of the reconstruction phase.

Mar 20

ERRA adding insult to affectees’ injuries: MMA

RAWALPINDI: President Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Ameer Jamaat-e-Islami AJK, Sardar Ijaz Afzal Khan, has said Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) is adding insult to the injuries of quake affectees.

Talking to various delegations of the quake affectees here, he said that ERRA was more complicating problems of the affectees and torturing them instead of facilitating them. He said that demanding submission of applications for third and final installment of aid for construction of houses is tantamount to deriding the affectees.

He said all the money should have been paid in one installment so that the affectees could have constructed their houses with ease. On the contrary such a method for providing the aid was adopted that has been deemed as a severely torture to the affectees, he added. The MMA leader said that ERRA and SERRA first proposed a design and then changed it; as a result the affectees had to demolish the newly constructed houses and then reconstructed these in accordance with the changed designs.

Mr. Khan urged ERRA not to demand bonds of the affectess for getting the aid as it would manifold problems of the helpless people, many of whom are widows and children. He warned ERRA to change its behavior otherwise the affected people would have no option other than staging protests and JI will join them for corrective action.

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 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

Jan 26

Rulers turn deaf ear to problems of quake affected areas: Ejaz Afzal

BAGH: President of Mutahidda Majlis-e-Amal and Ameer Jamaat-e-Islami Azad Kashmir Sardar Ejaz Afzal Khan has said that rulers have no interest in problems of the earthquake affectees which is condemnable.

He expressed these views while talking to the delegations of public and flood affectees here on Friday. He said that two and half years have passed and the affectees have not got the relief fund which means that claims of the government are false. Affectees should immediately be paid the remaining installments of the relief fund as severe snowfall and heavy rains have added to the difficulties of the people hit by the devastated earthquake, he added.

He said that the rulers should take steps to remove the problems of the people instead of raising empty slogans. Instead of rehabilitating them, rulers are putting salt to the wounds of the earthquake affectees by their actions, he added. He said that Jamaat-e-Islami is struggling for the rights of the people. The rulers, he said, will have to give right direction to their actions. He said that Jamaat-e-Islami will take direct action if the rulers do not change their attitude and violators of human rights will be exposed at every level.

He said that government of the independent territory has miserably failed in the rehabilitation and reconstruction process of the earthquake. Government is neither interested in the problems and difficulties of the people, nor it took remedies to tackle thses problems. He said that Jamaat-e-Islami will launch a strong movement against the puppet rulers if they do not solve the problems of the people.-SANA