Agriculture in post-flood areas


Agriculture in post-flood areas

By Tahir Ali

(http://jang.com.pk/thenews/sep2010-weekly/nos-19-09-2010/pol1.htm#3)

Having been badly hit first by years of militancy and of late by devastating flash floods, farmers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are eagerly waiting for financial support from the government and international community.

But the revival of agriculture and rehabilitation of farmers, apparently, may take some time as the federal government and international community have not provided funds for the purpose. Development of agriculture and rehabilitation of farmers is crucial to defeat terrorism and extremism in the region as over 80 per cent of the people depend on the sector directly or indirectly.

The total losses to the agriculture sector, estimated thus far, stand at about Rs43bn, with the losses — Rs34bn and Rs7.35bn — in the crops and livestock sectors respectively. A loss of a few billions more has been incurred by other agriculture sub-sectors for destruction or damages to the assets and infrastructure. Director irrigation Muhammad Naeem Khan says losses to irrigation infrastructure in all the ten major canal systems in KP, that stretch about 1909 miles and irrigate over 1.37 million acres, amounts to Rs10.6bn in all.

Murad Ali Khan, President of Kissan Board Pakistan, says agriculture and farmers had witnessed huge devastations during recent floods. “Farmers in Charsadda, Nowshera, Peshawar, Swat, Dir, Shangla, Dera Ismail Khan and other areas not only lost standing crops and orchards but their fields have either been eroded by floods, or made uncultivable by accumulated sand, silt, salts and water. Water-logging, salinity and soil erosion caused by the floods may deprive them of this income this year,” says Khan.

Inundation of vast agricultural lands, destruction of irrigation channels and of thousands of tonnes of ready-to-use- seeds would not only impact crop production in the coming season but is likely to lead to food shortage and food inflation. The loss of around 0.15mn animal is very troubling in that farmers were deprived of source of income but it also would lead to shortage and price hike of animal-products like meat and milk.

The destruction of irrigation infrastructure, like the Munda Headwork that irrigated around 0.3mn acres of land alone and others, was a big blow but officials, working incessantly, have solved the problem temporarily, much to the relief of extremely worried farmers. But farmers have many other problems which must be addressed for reviving the agriculture in KPK. Ali Khan says floods have destroyed huge public and private wheat seeds and fertiliser stocks in the province.

“Farming community faces a potential shortage of seeds and fertiliser in coming months. With thousands of tonnes of wheat and maize seeds having been washed away by recent floods and the wheat growing season to start next month, the government should procure and provide wheat seeds to farmers free of cost. Farmers have no seeds or money to buy the costly seeds from private vendors. If the problem is not solved immediately, there would be little wheat crop which entails food security risk for the KPK,” says Khan.

As a short term measure, farmers must be provided free or subsidised agriculture inputs such as seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and medicines and fodder for their living animals. Abdur Rahim Khan, Secretary General of the KPK chamber of agriculture, also says farmers must be provided free farm inputs for a couple of years.

“The escalating debt burden of farmers also needs immediate intervention. Agriculture loans of all farmers, especially small ones, should be written off or at least interest thereon should be remitted. The government should give easy farm and non-farm loans to small farmers to increase their incomes,” he says.

“As medium term measures, reclamation of fields and irrigation network should be addressed. For this purpose, the government must arrange for tractors and other field-levelling machinery to the affected farmers. Production and provision of enough fodder and medicines for livestock will also have to be ensured,” adds Khan. For this, he says, the government should quickly restore communication system and rebuild farm to market roads.

The construction of chashma lift canal project, which can irrigate around 0.3 million acres of land waiting for irrigation water, is must for developing agriculture in the province.

The disruption of supply of vegetables, fruits and other essential daily food items to market has also resulted in food inflation. Prices of tomatoes, potatoes, meat, fruit, wheat-flour and other food items have registered an increase of about 30 to 150 percent.

This will have highly negative fallouts for the majority poor if the government doesn’t come to their rescue by increasing or maintaining the level of food subsidies, which are being cut down these days.

Floods are estimated to have destroyed around 0.19 million acres of farm land. With the vegetables and crops of the summer season having been washed away, the government would have to launch a de-silting and land-levelling campaign for the fields before cultivation of winter vegetables and wheat. To regain soil fertility, the soils will have to be dug deeper. It requires heavy machinery, money, personnel and close coordination between farmers’ bodies and officials. Before this develops into a big problem, the government should devise a speedy and efficient mechanism to redress these tussles with the help of local communities.

It also means that the tilled and irrigated land in the province might have decreased further which can have devastating effects on agriculture in KP. This necessitates bringing under cultivation vast cultivable land available in the southern districts of the province.

“All the affected districts are the main sources of wheat and maize, fruit, vegetable, sugarcane, rice, and livestock. KP is a food-deficient province which relies for over 3/4th of its food needs on Punjab and PASSCO which too is badly hit and may not be in position to provide us the wheat we need. Destruction of the maize crop and endangered wheat cultivation for water logging and soil erosion will drastically decrease production,” he says.

This year KP’s wheat requirements are over 3.94 million metric tons. As the projected local production of 0.99 MMT may not be possible, wheat requirements will surge. The estimated amount of wheat subsidy is Rs14.08 billion. But the subsidy may have to be increased for two reasons: an almost certain drop in local wheat production this year and increase in the cost of imported wheat.

Both the federal and provincial governments will have to divert a major part of their current as well as development budgets to finance the critical phases of rehabilitation and full recovery of farmers in the province.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, on its part, has suspended its annual development programme and earmarked Rs18 billions for relief and rehabilitation efforts. But the loss is too huge. The federal government should announce and quickly implement a compensation and rehabilitation package for the province.

The agriculture department should involve the Bacha Khan Poverty Alleviation Programme the KP chamber of agriculture, the model farm services centre, and village representatives in the rehabilitation process. This will reduce corruption and expedite the process.

The provincial government seems to be alert to its duties in this regard but availability of funds is halting the process.

“We would provide seeds and fertilisers to farmers for the coming Rabi season with the help of the food and agriculture organisation (FAO) and the matter would be solved by November this year. We would also be reclaiming the lands and water channels and compensating the farmers for their losses as soon as possible,” he adds.

caption

Extent of disaster.

Turning calamity into opportunity

A blueprint for turning calamity into opportunity
By TAHIR ALI

(Business Recorder WEEKEND MAGAZINE September 25 2010):

The recent devastating flash floods have inflicted huge losses on the national economy. But rather than mourning the losses, we should be able to learn from the calamity and plan for the future. Failures and disasters offer opportunities for development, correction and reconstruction on sound lines.

If the pre/post disaster situation is critically analysed, the result can be a fool-proof agenda for development and prosperity and the natural calamity can be turned into an opportunity for reconstruction of the country. Natural calamities like the earlier earthquake and the recent floods cannot be stopped but yes their impact can be minimised by taking some measures.

Each time any big disaster strikes Pakistan, our systemic weaknesses on how to cope with such catastrophes come to the limelight. Absence of administrative bodies and technical know-how to cope with the tragedy is witnessed leaving the nation always dependent upon international help in rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations.

Acute shortage of funds, no or little equipments, personnel and resources to rescue the marooned people, of an organisational set-up, which automatically springs into action in the time of need, are some of the ailments our emergency programme has been beset with.

Extremely hesitant as Pakistani leadership is to cut down on their routine non developmental expenditure, the shortage of funds in wake of less enthusiastic international donations leaves little room with the government other than either to slash development budget or seek expensive foreign debts as has been witnessed in post-flood situation in the country.

While the former harms development prospects as less development budget means less development and facilities for the people, the latter increases foreign debt burden and the budget deficit and disturbs the balance of payment position.

The lack of any credible, independent and permanent calamity-dealing body leads to another frailty- that of trust deficit on part of the international donors who decline to donate as is required. People don’t give generously because they’re not sure the money will be spent honestly.

Problems are also compounded by a lack of any flood reconstruction and rehabilitation authority at national level. The national and provincial disaster management authorities, federal flood commission, and provincial reconstruction and rehabilitation authorities, inter alia, are there but there is still a need for body at the national level for the purpose.

The body should have branches both at provincial and district level. Working in close co-ordination with national and foreign bodies, responsible for rescue and relocation, relief and rehabilitation of the people hit by any disaster in future. If the body is established, led by men of repute and integrity, given independence and sufficient amount of funds are transferred to its account by the government, it will go a long way to diminish apprehensions of the local as well as foreign donor bodies.

The inability of the government to come to the rescue of marooned people leaves the ground open to either army or the religious aid groups that are accused of having relations with the militants.

It also leaves army to take the lead role in rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations that invariably stretches its resources as well attention from being focused on tackling security related issues.

Another problem is the lack of appropriate infrastructure that could accommodate the displaced persons. The result is they are either sheltered in educational institutions, which invariably affect the academic year or are accommodated in make-shift homes or on roadsides where there is no shelter against the vagaries of weather.

The incumbent PPP-led government might have delivered on several fronts such as the 18th Amendment, the NFC award etc, its performance on the issues of governance, services delivery, policymaking and policy implementation has not been upto the mark. Those who govern serve as role models for the nation. But the Pakistani leadership has failed itself by not only absenting itself from the scene but also indulging in chores that were counter productive and incompatible with the tragedy.

At a time when the country was battling the floods, it was pathetic and senseless that the government continued its war against a section of the media and mud-slinging between opposition and ruling groups continued.

The lack of co-ordination between government departments in emergency also is a problem, which leads to several other complexities like dubious figures, failure to disseminate information, accountability void and the like.

Had a unified political leadership made an appeal for local and foreign donations, the situation would have been quite different. This united stand would have impressed the reluctant and suspicious foreign donors, especially some of the wealthier Gulf States that have so far remained indifferent to the needs of Pakistan.

It seems by our continued anti-west rhetoric, we seem to have exhausted the reservoir of good-will in the comity of nations and we should not expect too much from outside in this backdrop.

Comparatively low-key coverage or negative coverage in the international media and a lack of celebrity involvement has also spoiled chances for robust funding. This warrants hard work on part of the government’s media managers.

A ‘revelation’ by the Daily Telegraph and other dailies, that 12 billion Pakistani rupees were allegedly diverted from the earthquake budget to other government projects, was catastrophic for the foreign donations. Though federal secretary finance rebutted the report but the damage had already been done. Foreign aid would have been much higher had these negative reports not been published. This explains the lackluster responses by donor agencies and the international community towards the aid appeals.

The total pledges made so far stand at around $800 billion but the actual money received in cash and relief goods is $142 million. But this lack of trust in the Pakistani government’s ability to spend aid money effectively and honestly should not keep it from helping millions of affectees. Reconstruction of areas and rehabilitation of the people affected by floods is a huge challenge. This can hardly be successfully tackled by the government alone. Every segment of the society must play its role in tackling of disaster. The international donors and relief organisations should also help Pakistan rehabilitate the flood victims in the earliest.

It is high time that the government should build houses in every district to accommodate displaced or calamity-hit people. It will save the future of millions of students studying in the public sector schools whose education suffers when affectees are sheltered in these schools.

The flood zoning policy must be strictly implemented. Construction of houses, hotels and shops near or on banks of the rivers should never be allowed. A machinery pool should be established in all the four provinces. The pool, inter alia, should have plenty of helicopters, rescue boats, tents, heavy-duty machinery for lifting, digging and breaking purposes, excavators, tractors, bulldozers, vehicles, ready-made houses and bridges that can be used in similar emergencies in future. Pakistan should also open a permanent endowment calamity fund where annual allocations must be made. Its funds would be used for emergency rescue and relief activities but also for long-term recovery and reconstruction efforts.

A localised sophisticated flood warning system and calamity reporting system is also the call of the hour. Rather than waiting for the foreign donations, the federal government should divert at least 30 percent of development and 50 percent of non-development expenditures to the rehabilitation of the flood-affected people.

Resource shortages must be overcome through personal sacrifices and smart management. The military leadership has been spearheading the campaign, which has won it great laurels. Political leadership should not be lagging behind any more.

The government can also save billions by bringing down its current expenditure by unifying several overlapping departments, restructuring of Public Sector Enterprises, rationalisation of government size, budgetary measures, substantial curtailment of foreign visits and of expenses on public offices, security and energy efficiency and conservation.

http://www.brecorder.com/index.php?id=1105940&currPageNo=1&query=&search=&term=&supDate=

Opportunity within reach By Huma Yousaf

DAWN.COM | Columnists | Opportunity within reach.

Growers fear Wheat seeds

KP growers fear severe wheat seed shortage
By Tahir Ali
Monday, 20 Sep, 2010

WITH the wheat sowing season to commence next month, farmers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa anticipate an acute shortage of seeds. They fear that if the issue is not tackled soon, it will severely damage the crop prospects.

They want the federal and provincial governments and the international community to come to the rescue of the badly hit growers for whom the coming Rabi crop constitutes a first step towards their ultimate rehabilitation.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has also warned that farmers in KP may not be able to plant wheat because of non-availability of quality seed and other needed inputs. Failure to provide time-critical inputs could reduce wheat yields, it fears.

Realising the potential seed shortage, the government has asked district agriculture officials to buy even the wheat meant for food.

“Normally wheat food grain is not utilised for sowing. But as seed shortage is feared, the director-general agricultural extension, KP, has asked all districts to buy as much of the commodity as possible,” says an official.

Though officials are confident there would be no shortage of seed, farmers fear its scarcity in coming weeks.

“Enough quantity and a robust system of distribution must be arranged in emergency,” said Niamat Shah Sawal Dher, general secretary of the Anjuman-e-Kashtkaran of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Shah feared that millions of acres of irrigated land may be left barren if seed was not arranged in time. “With the Pirsabaq’s seeds research farm, public seeds industry and private seed stocks having been mostly destroyed by floods, KP is almost certain to face wheat seed shortage. The government should quickly import standard certified seeds to fill the gap,” he said.

“There are also reports that the government wants to utilise food standard wheat as seeds in wake of shortage. This is not a right choice,” Shah added.

Murad Ali Khan, the president of the Kissan Board Pakistan, said “We will like the government to provide seed free of cost to flood-hit farmers.”

Muhammad Zahir Khan, a farmers’ leader, said Charsadda farmers have lost wheat seed stored in their homes. “The government and farmers organisations should sit together to chalk out a strategy as to what should be done to ensure a bumper wheat crop. Wheat sowing is at hand, but there is neither any compensation nor free seed or other inputs for the growers despite promises. I am worried how will farmers pay their agricultural debts, buy inputs and feed their families when they won’t be able to sow wheat,” she said.

Bakht Biland Khan, general secretary of Kissan Board, Swat, also asked for relief . “While we know Swat is not the only place to have been hit by flood but we do deserve more attention as we have been devastated first by militancy and then by floods. Swat farmers are mostly poor who own an acre of land and have no money to buy inputs. We deserve to be compensated for our losses and must be given free seed and money to buy farm inputs and reclaim our fields,” he said.

A senior official said: “We will shortly take up the issue with the federal government. The provincial food department has also enough wheat stock that can be used as seed. Private seed companies will also be procuring the commodity. We also intend to buy seed from Punjab and have already bought 2,000 tons of it. Though at present we have only a small quantity of the required seed, it is hoped that by the start of the wheat sowing season, the problem will be solved,” he added. But this, others fear, may not be the case.

The KP uses about 1.9 million acres for wheat cultivation. The provincial seeds industry provides 10 per cent of the total wheat seeds requirement of 80,000 metric tons to farmers.

This year the demand for wheat seed has increased. In the past, 70 per cent of the KP farmers used their own stock while the rest bought seeds. Now as floods have destroyed wheat stocks in Charasadda, Nowshera and the DIK and Lakki Marwat, the government will have to provide seeds to more farmers.

Recent flash floods have dealt severe blows to agriculture in Peshawar valley, Malakand division and southern parts of the province.

The FAO, provincial Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Settlement Authority and some local and international non-governmental organisations are planning to provide farm inputs to farmers on a limited scale. It means a large number of affected farmers will not benefit from the plan and will be left out.

Losses to agriculture in KP

Khyber Pkhtunkhwa
Extensive losses in agriculture and related sectors

By Tahir Ali

Rehabilitation of farmers and revival of agro-economy in post-flood Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) is unlikely to start soon as neither KPK itself has the fiscal space available with it nor the federal government and international community have provided it with the necessary funds required for the purpose.

Development and rehabilitation of agriculture is crucial to defeat terrorism and extremism in the region as over 80 per cent of the people depend on the sector directly or indirectly, for their income. Failure to ensure quick damage assessment and provide relief and reconstruction would be exploited by the militants who are always there to capitalize on the weaknesses of the government.

The devastating floods have inflicted losses amounting to billions of dollars on agriculture and its related sectors. According to preliminary estimates, the losses to the agriculture sector in crops, livestock and irrigation systems stand at Rs12 bn, Rs7 bn and Rs10.6 bn respectively.

The inundation of vast agricultural lands, destruction of irrigation channels and thousands of tonnes of ready-to-use seeds would not only impact crop production in the coming season but is likely to lead to food shortages and inflation.

The president of the Kisan Board Pakistan said that the flash-floods not only destroyed standing crops over an estimated 0.46 million acres of land in the province as well as horticulture, they also eroded the fields and made them uncultivable by excessive accumulation of mud and water. This soil erosion is likely to result in boundary feuds and legal fights on the fields causing a ban on farming thereon till the disposal of cases. It also means that the tilled and irrigated land in the province, which is 30 per cent of the cultivable land, might have decreased further which can have detrimental effects on agriculture in KPK. The destruction of irrigation infrastructure such as the Munda Headwork that irrigated around 0.3 mn acres of land is yet another blow.

The disruption in supply of vegetables and fruits to markets has resulted in food inflation. Tomatoes, potatoes, meat, fruit, wheat-flour and other food items have registered an increase of about 30 to 100 per cent. This price-hike will have highly negative fallouts for the majority of the poor if the government does not come to their rescue by increasing or maintaining the level of food subsidies.

An official from the irrigation department said that the losses to irrigation infrastructure in all the ten major canal systems in KPK amount to Rs10.6 bn. He said the department was trying its level best to do the necessary minor repair and cleanliness work to restore water availability within a month.

The secretary general of the KPK Chamber of Agriculture was of the opinion that the farms will have to be cleaned from the mud and leveled. For that the government will have to provide sufficient machinery and resources. That might not be an easy task keeping in view the fact that this would require enormous funds, machinery and personnel.

The floods have also damaged the vital livestock sector. An official said that floods have killed 0.15 million animals worth Rs7 bn. This loss is very troubling as the death of income generating livestock is not only perilous in that the farmers are deprived of their main source of income but it would also lead to shortages and price hike of animal-products like meat and milk.

An official in the KPK’s ministry of agriculture said, “KPK is a food deficient province which relies for over 3/4th of its food needs on Punjab and Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (Passco) which too is badly hit and may not be in a position to provide us the wheat we need. And the destruction of the maize crop and the expected drop in wheat cultivation will drastically hit the province and farmers financially. Commoners too would be impacted and will have to be saved from the food inflation.”

The wheat subsidy is Rs14.08 bn for this year. But it may have to be increased due to an almost certain drop in local wheat production and surge in the import bill of wheat.

As a short term measure, the government will have to ensure a speedy damage assessment and provide farmers with immediate relief so that they could prepare their fields themselves.

As a medium term measure, it should immediately restore the communication system, address the critical problem of demarcation and rehabilitation of fields and irrigation networks. For this purpose, the government must arrange for tractors and other field leveling machinery to the affected farmers. The escalating debt burden of farmers also needs immediate intervention. They also need to be provided free or subsidized agriculture inputs and fodder for their living animals. Agriculture loans of the farmers should be written off or at least interest thereon should be remitted. Easy farm and non-farm loans to small farmers to restart their businesses are also overdue.

As a long term measure, the government needs to better plan for the future, form a permanent and independent flood rehabilitation commission and construct small and large dams to absorb high river flows in future.

Formation of a credible and independent National Rehabilitation Commission to ensure transparency in the collection, management and distribution of relief and rehabilitation funds is the call of the hour.

It is high time that farmers in the flood-ravaged areas are exempted from malia and abiana and other taxes for a couple of years. Farmers in Charasdda, the worst-hit district, also urged the political administration for free provision of agricultural inputs for this year.

To cope with the catastrophe, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has asked for Rs10 bn for the time being from the federal government. The federal government should announce a big compensation and rehabilitation package for the flood-hit people, including farmers. The government will have to adopt simplicity to save funds for both relief and rehabilitation phases.

The flooding is “well timed” in that it occurred in Ramadan. In this month people whole heartedly support the poor and needy and this opportunity should be utilized to the maximum.

Massive losses to agriculture

Province-wise
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Extensive losses in agriculture and related sectors

By Tahir Ali

Rehabilitation of farmers and revival of agro economy in post-flood Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) is unlikely to start soon as neither KPK itself has the fiscal space available with it nor the federal government and international community have provided it with the necessary funds required for the purpose.

Development and rehabilitation of agriculture is crucial to defeat terrorism and extremism in the region as over 80 per cent of the people depend on the sector directly or indirectly, for their income. Failure to ensure quick damage assessment and provide relief and reconstruction would be exploited by the militants who are always there to capitalize on the weaknesses of the government.

The devastating floods have inflicted losses amounting to billions of dollars on agriculture and its related sectors. According to preliminary estimates, the losses to the agriculture sector in crops, livestock and irrigation systems stand at Rs12 bn, Rs7 bn and Rs10.6 bn respectively.

The inundation of vast agricultural lands, destruction of irrigation channels and thousands of tonnes of ready-to-use seeds would not only impact crop production in the coming season but is likely to lead to food shortages and inflation.

The president of the Kisan Board Pakistan said that the flash-floods not only destroyed standing crops over an estimated 0.46 million acres of land in the province as well as horticulture, they also eroded the fields and made them uncultivable by excessive accumulation of mud and water. This soil erosion is likely to result in boundary feuds and legal fights on the fields causing a ban on farming thereon till the disposal of cases. It also means that the tilled and irrigated land in the province, which is 30 per cent of the cultivable land, might have decreased further which can have detrimental effects on agriculture in KPK. The destruction of irrigation infrastructure such as the Munda Headwork that irrigated around 0.3 mn acres of land is yet another blow.

The disruption in supply of vegetables and fruits to markets has resulted in food inflation. Tomatoes, potatoes, meat, fruit, wheat-flour and other food items have registered an increase of about 30 to 100 per cent. This price-hike will have highly negative fallouts for the majority of the poor if the government does not come to their rescue by increasing or maintaining the level of food subsidies.

An official from the irrigation department said that the losses to irrigation infrastructure in all the ten major canal systems in KPK amount to Rs10.6 bn. He said the department was trying its level best to do the necessary minor repair and cleanliness work to restore water availability within a month.

The secretary general of the KPK Chamber of Agriculture was of the opinion that the farms will have to be cleaned from the mud and leveled. For that the government will have to provide sufficient machinery and resources. That might not be an easy task keeping in view the fact that this would require enormous funds, machinery and personnel.

The floods have also damaged the vital livestock sector. An official said that floods have killed 0.15 million animals worth Rs7 bn. This loss is very troubling as the death of income generating livestock is not only perilous in that the farmers are deprived of their main source of income but it would also lead to shortages and price hike of animal-products like meat and milk.

An official in the KPK’s ministry of agriculture said, “KPK is a food deficient province which relies for over 3/4th of its food needs on Punjab and Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (Passco) which too is badly hit and may not be in a position to provide us the wheat we need. And the destruction of the maize crop and the expected drop in wheat cultivation will drastically hit the province and farmers financially. Commoners too would be impacted and will have to be saved from the food inflation.”

The wheat subsidy is Rs14.08 bn for this year. But it may have to be increased due to an almost certain drop in local wheat production and surge in the import bill of wheat.

As a short term measure, the government will have to ensure a speedy damage assessment and provide farmers with immediate relief so that they could prepare their fields themselves.

As a medium term measure, it should immediately restore the communication system, address the critical problem of demarcation and rehabilitation of fields and irrigation networks. For this purpose, the government must arrange for tractors and other field leveling machinery to the affected farmers. The escalating debt burden of farmers also needs immediate intervention. They also need to be provided free or subsidized agriculture inputs and fodder for their living animals. Agriculture loans of the farmers should be written off or at least interest thereon should be remitted. Easy farm and non-farm loans to small farmers to restart their businesses are also overdue.

As a long term measure, the government needs to better plan for the future, form a permanent and independent flood rehabilitation commission and construct small and large dams to absorb high river flows in future.

Formation of a credible and independent National Rehabilitation Commission to ensure transparency in the collection, management and distribution of relief and rehabilitation funds is the call of the hour.

It is high time that farmers in the flood-ravaged areas are exempted from malia and abiana and other taxes for a couple of years. Farmers in Charasdda, the worst-hit district, also urged the political administration for free provision of agricultural inputs for this year.

To cope with the catastrophe, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has asked for Rs10 bn for the time being from the federal government. The federal government should announce a big compensation and rehabilitation package for the flood-hit people, including farmers.  The government will have to adopt simplicity to save funds for both relief and rehabilitation phases.

The flooding is “well timed” in that it occurred in Ramadan. In this month people whole heartedly support the poor and needy and this opportunity should be utilized to the maximum.

Eid controversy surfaces again

Once again there are going to be tow Eids in the country. While the official moon sighting committee headed by Mufti Muneebur Rehman has announced that EId will ne on Saturday, the unofficial Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s committee lead by Mufti Shahabuddin Populzai has declared Eid will ne held throughout the province on Frida…y. What a pity. Why and how an ordinary person like the latter is allowed to challenge the state bodies. Why is he allowed to become as the self-proclaimed Ameerul Mumineen at first and is afforded an opportunity to decide these things which fall under the domain of the state?

Just read the following news stories;

Shawwal moon not sighted; Eid on Saturday

Updated at: 2106 PST,  Thursday, September 09, 2010
Shawwal moon not sighted; Eid on Saturday KARACHI: The central moon sighting committee on Thursday announced that Shawwal moon was not sighted in any part of the country and Eidul Fitr would be celebrated on Saturday, 11th September, 2010.

Addressing a press conference, Chairman, Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee, Mufti Munib-ur-Rehman said no authentic evidence of moon sighting had been received from any part of the country.

Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee met for sighting of crescent (Moon) of Shawal/Eid-ul-Fitr-1431-Hijri on Thursday at Pakistan Meteorological Department, Karachi.

………..

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa to celebrate Eid on Friday

Updated at: 2225 PST,  Thursday, September 09, 2010
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa to celebrate Eid on Friday PESHAWAR: Mufti Shahabuddin Popalzai Friday night announced that Shawwal moon was sighted in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and that Eid-ul-Fitr will be celebrated in the province on Friday.

Talking to media here at Masjid Qasim Khan, he said 19 authentic evidences, including two by women, were received from Mardan, Charsadda, Shabqadar and other areas, confirming the sighting of Shawwal moon.

A meeting of zonal Ruet-e-Hilal Committee which was held here with prayer leader Mufti Shahabudding Popalzai in the chair, continued till 10 pm on Thursday.

Senior Minister Bashir Bilour was also present at the meeting.

Mufti Shahabuddin said the difference between the central and zonal Ruet-e-Hilal committees is the same as exists between possibility and certainty.

Bashir Bilour on the occasion said the decision to celebrate Eid on Friday was made on the basis of ‘Sharai’ evidences.

He said Eid will be celebrated in the province on Friday in simplicity. However, he added, that although he will perform prayer tomorrow, he will not meet with anyone (to exchange Eid greetings).