KARACHI: Local Government Minister Nasir Shah on Thursday informed the Sindh Assembly that the provincial government had planned to launch a project with the assistance of the World Bank to revamp the crumbling water supply and sewerage system of the city.
“This $100-million project is being launched with the assistance of the World Bank in which the federal government will also make contribution,” said Mr Shah while responding to a calling-attention notice furnished by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Khurrum Sher Zaman.
The PTI lawmaker sought reasons from the provincial government for the “failure of the local government department during the rainfall in which we witnessed urban flooding across Karachi”.
“When we questioned the K-Electric about such deaths because of their flawed system, they responded with a question of their own, asking us why the city was allowed to be affected by urban flooding,” said Mr Zaman.
He said the present provincial government had spent hundreds of billions of rupees on development during its reign over Sindh for more than a decade yet even basic facilities were mostly absent.
Opposition worried over deteriorating law & order in Shikarpur
He said he would soon table a bill to amend the existing local government law for greater rights for the city’s mayor.
‘Worst rains in decades’
Minister Shah claimed the recent rains were the worst in decades. However, the situation was normalised in relatively lesser time than before.
“We have all witnessed in the past when normal rains would choke the routine life in the city, but this time around when Karachi endured 200mm rains, it hardly took us two to four hours to make the major arteries motorable,” said Mr Shah. However, he conceded, the issues remained in the low-lying areas and there was still much work to do by the authorities concerned.
He said garbage and filth piled on the banks of the city’s storm-water drains, in addition to encroachment, contributed to the woes of the city.
“The Sindh government paid Rs550m for the cleaning of the city’s nullahs to the KMC [Karachi Metropolitan Corporation], yet, all we saw was no improvement offered from that side,” said the minister.
He said apart from the $100m project, another $500m project was in the pipeline to revamp the entire system run by the KWSB. That project would also be supported by the World Bank.
He requested the opposition parties to join hands with the government to ensure a better infrastructure for the city.
He said every MPA, irrespective of one’s party affiliation, would be an active part of the government’s plans for improving water distribution system in the city.
He added that as per directive of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party’s leadership, the government was vying to make desalination of water a reality.
Speaker Siraj Durrani suggested the minister to invite members belonging to political parties represented in the house in the KWSB’s board meetings as well.
Shikarpur’s law and order problem
In another calling-attention notice, PTI’s parliamentary leader Haleem Adil Sheikh claimed that the provincial government had little concern about the deteriorating law and order situation in Shikarpur district, where 40 persons had been killed in the past two months.
He demanded that the government launch an operation against dacoits in Sindh’s katcha terrain by getting the paramilitary Rangers on board as the incidents of kidnapping for ransom had “phenomenally increased”. He referred to the recent kidnapping of popular singer Jigar Jalal in Shikarpur, hometown of Speaker Durrani.
In the flow of his speech, Mr Sheikh made personal remarks against Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Chawla, who responded in a similar harsh tone. However, the chair succeeded in pacifying them and directed that all unparliamentary words used by the two lawmakers be expunged.
Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh corrected Mr Sheikh’s claim when he said a total of 22 people had been killed in Shikarpur in the past two months for various reasons, including honour killing, personal and tribal feuds. He said the police had arrested 12 suspects.
Besides, he added, four police officials, including a deputy superintendent of police and an SHO, had also been martyred.
He said it was not an extraordinary situation, as the government was making efforts to normalise the situation there, which, sometimes, for no specific reasons, worsened.
He said the government had not seized the police’s powers, but the new police law had just ensured that the law enforcers should remain under the oversight of the chief minister. He said Rangers were present in every district and civil administration would call them whenever required.
Health Minister Azra Pechuho informed the house that so far 1,225 cases of dengue haemorrhagic fever had been recorded in the provincial capital of whom six persons had died.
She was responding to an adjournment motion moved by Khurrum Sher Zaman, which the mover later withdrew.
She said the mosquito-borne fatal disease had become a routine health hazard in the province, Karachi in particular, which affected hundreds of people every year.
She said her ministry was making efforts to rein in the fatal infection for which Rs87m had been released for disinfecting all the neighbourhoods of the city and social mobilisation to inform the public about hazards of the disease.
“We have begun social mobilisation, internal residual sprays and disinfecting the areas where mosquito larvae have been detected,” said the minister.
She added that fogging and sprays were being carried out in the city. She suggested that there was a serious need for the removal of stagnant water in various neighbourhoods because of rains for which her ministry was making efforts.
Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal’s Abdul Rasheed said on a point of order that nine of the 16 buildings in Lyari, which were sealed by the Sindh Building Control Authority, were illegally constructed with no action from the authorities in sight. He said such acts had clearly challenged the writ of the government.
He criticised Mayor Wasim Akhtar for asking the citizens not to pay tax to the provincial government while “some 350,000 vendors in the city are being forced every day to pay extortion”.
Published in Dawn, August 23rd, 2019