Saturday May 21, 2022
LAHORE: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday convened an emergency meeting on a forest fire in the Sherani District of Balochistan.
During the meeting, the prime minister briefed that the fire that started on May 12 had been brought under control but it started again on May 20 due to hot and dry weather. He directed the federal and provincial departments to control the situation.
"National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is in contact with the governmental departments, forest department, local government and Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) regarding the matter," said the premier, adding that the NDMA has set up relief camps and offices and steps are being taken to speed up the relief activities.
Expressing sorrow over the loss of three lives and the injuries faced by four persons, PM Shehbaz said that the country does not have the resources and expertise to deal with this kind of situation. "I hope that the situation will be managed through the efforts of the departments concerned and the Pakistan Army," he added.
The premier said that precautionary measures will be taken to protect the forests of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir and the federal government will be contacted in this regard. He added that a helicopter should be arranged to manage the situation immediately.
In this regard, the PM also directed the task force to control the situation and speed up relief operations.
Talking about the issue, Chief Minister Balochistan Abdul Quddus Bizenjo informed that further steps are being taken to control the situation, and added that the fire has been controlled to a great extent.
The CM of Balochistan further apprised the meeting about the people who lost their lives and were injured while also giving an explanation about the relief measures being taken by the government for them.
The meeting was also attended by Federal Ministers Khawaja Asif, Maulana Abdul Wasay, Marriyum Aurangzeb, NDMA chairman, corps commander Quetta, chief secretary Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Several federal and provincial secretaries participated through a video link.
Balochistan PDMA is in coordination with the NDMA and is steering relief efforts organising fire fighting activities, a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.
According to the statement, the army and Frontier Corps Balochistan are providing maximum assistance in this regard.
The fire is mostly on mountain tops (10,000 feet high) away from population centres but continues to spread due to hot weather, the inaccessible nature of the terrain and dry winds. The nearest village is approximately 8-10 kilometres away from the location of the fire.
An FC Wing and two army helicopters, along with local administration and Levies, have been employed in fire fighting and relief efforts. The statement further said that one helicopter is being used to drop water and the other is being used to drop fireball and fire extinguishing chemicals on the fire.
"400 fireballs, 200 fire suits, blankets, tents, mats and fire extinguishing equipment have been provided by the NDMA through FC Balochistan. Army has also transported relief equipment from Lahore to Zhob," said the statement.