Centre to help Karachi govt cope with rain emergency

July 31, 2019

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Commuters cross a flooded street during heavy monsoon rains in Karachi on July 30, 2019.  — AFP or licensors
Commuters cross a flooded street during heavy monsoon rains in Karachi on July 30, 2019. — AFP or licensors

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: The federal government decided on Tuesday to respond to the SOS of Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar to cope with the emergency situation triggered by recent rains in the megacity, acknowledging that the provincial government had failed to fulfil its duty vis-a-vis the provincial capital over the past 10 years.

Speaking at a joint press conference after a cabinet meeting, Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Ali Zaidi and Minister for Information Technology Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui condemned the provincial government for not spending money generated from taxes of the people of the megacity on the city and the province.

“The prime minister has directed that Karachi cannot be left helpless the way it has been by the Sindh government for a long time and, therefore, I talked to National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal and we are going to Karachi on Wednesday evening. Besides, I have also talked to the director general of the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) who is currently out of the country,” the minister said.

Sindh govt blamed for not spending money generated from taxes of city’s populace

“We need to have a permanent solution and we are standing shoulder to shoulder with the mayor of the Karachi to cope with the emergency situation triggered by recent rains in the city.”

Mr Zaidi said that all the 38 stormwater drains of Karachi were choked due to solid waste and the PPP government, despite being in power for years and despite having been repeatedly informed about the issue, did nothing.

“The Sindh government has never cared about Karachi and its people and their mismanagement of the past 11 years has now resulted in the massive suffering of citizens of this megacity today,” the minister said.

Speaking on the occasion, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui alleged that the Sindh government was deliberately treating Karachi like its subject and it was keeping the local government financially weak.

“Does Karachi need any financial support?” Mr Siddiqui asked. “No. The city generates around 65 per cent of the total national and 97 per cent of provincial revenues, but look at the condition of the people and the city,” Mr Siddiqui regretted.

He said that urban areas of Sindh had paid taxes of Rs175,000 billion over the past 10 years, whereas rural areas had paid only Rs10 billion in terms of taxes in that period. Mr Siddiqui added that massive corruption of the provincial government must be investigated.

Earlier, Mr Zaidi tweeted that he had received a letter from the Karachi mayor and discussed the matter with the prime minister in detail and it had been decided that the federal government would do all it could to address the emergency situation in Karachi.

Karachi mayor’s letter

Meanwhile, the Mayor of Karachi, Waseem Akhtar, on Tuesday requested the federal government to help the city’s municipal administration in coping with the emergency situation created in the city by huge rains.

In a letter to the maritime affairs minister, the mayor requested the federal government to help the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation in its operations to drain out rainwater from the city as due to lack of financial resources and required machinery it is dumping untreated 550MGD sewage water and about 6,000 tons of solid waste into the sea daily.

The mayor said that the sewage water had seeped into drinking water pipelines, posing a great risk of an outbreak of water-borne diseases in the city on a massive scale.

Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2019