Fourteen Years On, Promises To AJK Quake Survivors Remain Unfulfilled
On this day fourteen years ago, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) was struck by one of the most disastrous earthquakes in recent times. With fourteen years passing by, the people of the earthquake-hit areas are still in wait of the fulfillment of promises made to them by governments.
A report in Express Tribune has revealed that the survivors of the ‘October 2005’ earthquake are still awaiting for the education, health and other sectors to fully recover from the earthquake. Millions of rupees on the new government buildings have been spent, but they are yet to become fully functional.
Survivors have also made complaints about the AJK government not properly rehabilitating them.
One of the survivors informed media that each earthquake victim only received an amount between Rs75,000 to Rs200,000 to reconstructs their houses, adding that it was unimaginable to construct a new house with such a small amount.
Survivors have also complained that the government never provided a proper plan for resettlement in the disaster-hit areas. One survivor also revealed that plots demarcated in a destroyed area in Satellite Town were distributed to those who did not lose anything to the quake.
In a startling revelation, a resident of the area, Rab Nawaz, said that the Rs750 million allocated for relief to quake victims was expended on AJK prime minister’s official residence in Narrul Jalalabad. He added that to build a house for the AJK PM with money for schools, hospitals and other infrastructure was ‘criminal negligence’.
The sector that was the most affected in the earthquake was education, with more than 2,800 schools being destroyed. Only a few hundred schools have been rebuilt, while construction of 500 schools has not even started.
One resident lamented the fact that even after 14 years, the AJK government could not come up with a proper plan to rebuild and repair the destroyed schools.
Other sectors suffered too, not just from the earthquake, but from the apparent incompetence of authorities. A sewerage line in Muzaffarabad constructed at the cost of Rs4.5billion is still in need of repairs. A resident termed the work done on the line as ‘substandard’ and stated that there was no one to hold those who had worked on its construction accountable.
However, people do have good words for some of their helpers, but sadly those are the foreign countries who stepped in to help Pakistan manage the effects of the disastrous earthquake.
A resident, who lost his 17 family members stated to media, “We salute both the Arab countries and the West, particularly the UK, the US, Canada, and Germany, along with Turkey and Cuba for helping rebuild schools, hospitals and other buildings.”
He added that they would never forget the support given by these countries for reconstruction of buildings, even mosques.
He further added that all the pink government office buildings in Muzaffarabad, Bagh, and Rawalakot were constructed by Turkey, UAE, Canada, Cuba. He specifically commended the rescue efforts of the Americans, who carried out round-the-clock operations in the earthquake-affected areas. He further praised the Pakistan Army for its rescue and relief efforts, who he said stepped in before any other department or country.