KARACHI: Sindh Information Minister Saeed Ghani has said that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement instead of joining hands to clean Karachi are indulging in political point-scoring and penalising the people under a “conspiracy” to tarnish the image of the Pakistan Peoples Party in Sindh.

The minister was talking to the media after an event at Karachi University on Wednesday.

He claimed there was no direct link of the Sindh government with the removal of garbage and cleaning of storm-water drains as it was the function of the DMCs and the KMC, respectively, and the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board was set up to “assist” the DMCs. Four DMCs, he said, had given the responsibility of lifting garbage and cleaning the streets and roads to the SSWMB, which is active in the four DMCs, while two DMCs did not sign the agreement with it. However in district West the company concerned failed to discharge its responsibilities, therefore, the contract of the Chinese company was scrapped.

He said in three districts — East, South and Malir — the situation of cleanliness was far better than in the other DMCs.

In reply to a question, he said that the localities with dumping of garbage and standing accumulated rainwater and overflowing gutters were either from district Central, Korangi or a cantonment board or areas under the control of the federal agencies.

He recalled that last month, when he was the local bodies minister, districts Central and Korangi chairmen had asked him for assistance. “We made it obligatory [on] the SSWMB to lift garbage from their localities and take it to the landfill sites and later they also expressed gratitude for the work done, but it was a matter of regret that on Tuesday while talking to the media the Karachi mayor had thanked Bahria Town and other institutions for assisting the KMC in cleaning the city streets and roads.

The minister said that it appeared as if the mayor was on the PTI agenda and the MQM for the last few months had been playing the role of a ‘B team’ of the PTI, which was using the MQM for carrying out the job which the PTI itself could not do.

He also recalled that sewerage lines and gutters were being blocked by throwing plastic bags into them and now Federal Minister Ali Zaidi himself had conceded that sewerage lines were being deliberately blocked.

He said that now the mayor was asking the people not to pay taxes to the Sindh government although the provincial government was spending Rs125 billion on development schemes in Karachi while the federal government had only allocated Rs12bn in the federal budget for Karachi.

The minister pointed out that they did not ask the federal government to pay Rs162bn for the K-IV water project nor they had asked it to release funds for the S-III project nor the MQM had ever asked the federal government for allocation of an additional 1,200 cusecs of water.

The information minister said: “We are implementing maximum development projects in Karachi because this city is generating maximum revenue for the country.” He said that was why the PPP neither could disown this city nor would it ignore its problems.

Published in Dawn, August 22nd, 2019