Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Wednesday regretted that the issue of garbage collection in Karachi was being politicised by various parties when the task was the responsibility of the district municipal corporations (DMC) of the city.
"First the federal government [took charge of the matter] and now MQM (Muttahida Qaumi Movement) and PSP (Pak Sarzameen Party) are fighting over the issue," he remarked during a conversation with reporters in Thatta.
The chief minister was referring to the much-hyped ‘Clean Karachi’ campaign of the federal government spearheaded by Maritime Minister Ali Zaidi which had been accelerated on the prime minister's directives after a war of words between Zaidi, Mayor Waseem Akhtar and PPP leaders over water and sewerage issues faced by the metropolis.
Shah alleged that the federal government had picked up the trash accumulated in stormwater drains only to leave it on the roadside instead of transporting it to designated landfills which led to the problem of flies swarming the city.
"The responsibility lies with the DMCs; it is not the mayor's or the federal government's or the provincial government's to begin with. To help, we had created the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board (SSWMB)," said the PPP leader.
He added: "This is the KMC's responsibility and I get daily reports from them as well for the progress achieved in terms of fumigation but perhaps the situation on the ground is different."
The chief minister said that in 2014, 2015 and 2016, the garbage collection used to amount to 3,500-4,000 tonnes and now it is at least 12,000 tonnes. "We need to create more capacity given the speed with which the city is expanding," he said.
"I have directed the commissioners and deputy commissioners to personally oversee the matter so that fumigation is done properly and if any help from the provincial government is needed for garbage collection, we will provide it," he added.
Garbage war reaches court
Meanwhile, the ongoing episode of score-settling between Mayor Akhtar and PSP Chairman Syed Mustafa Kamal over sanitation in the city reached the court today as a petition was filed in the Sindh High Court challenging the suspension of the former mayor from the post of ‘Project Director Garbage’ less than 24 hours after his appointment.
Iqbal Kazmi, a civil rights campaigner, petitioned the SHC and contended that the city was facing a serious problem of sanitation and proper disposal of garbage due to lack of interest by the city mayor and local government departments.
The petitioner argued that the mayor appointed the PSP chief as ‘Project Director Garbage’ after the latter challenged the mayor to clean Karachi in 90 days and then suspended the appointment the following day without issuing a show-cause notice.
He has maintained that the appointment cannot be suspended without Kamal being served a show-cause notice and has pleaded that the suspension order be declared illegal.
The petition has named the incumbent mayor, the former mayor, as well as the secretary of local bodies as respondents and is likely to be fixed for a hearing next week.