DERA GHAZI KHAN: All four police stations of Dera Ghazi Khan city have registered cases under sections 272 and 37 of the local government act against unidentified people on charges of filling manholes with debris to block the sewerage lines.

The sewerage system has nearly collapsed either due to the use of substandard material or the mafia that’s filled manholes with debris to block the system and give a bad name to the government, sources told Dawn.

Commissioner Mudassir Malik wrote a letter to the chief minister’s inspection team as well as the Anti-Corruption Establishment director general to probe into the matter by deputing technical teams to fix the responsibility of collapse of the sewerage system.

Locals had staged several protests against Climate Change Minister Zartaj Gul, MPAs Hanif Pitafi and PTI leader Dr Shaheena Najeeb Khosa. They put up banners against the failure of local legislators in providing a clean and hygienic environment, but the banners were later removed by the administration.

Meanwhile, three sanitary workers of a private company, including two brothers and their cousin, had died a couple days ago during cleaning of a choked manhole. The men entered the manhole one after the other without safety gadgets. The public health department of Dera Ghazi Khan had assigned the contract of cleaning the city to a private company instead of improving the municipal corporation.

Chief Minister Usman Buzdar had also sent Local Government Secretary Maher Mazhar Iqbal for ensuring cleanliness of the city, Manika canal and the remaining tehsils, but all efforts made by several quarters proved futile.

Currently, the sewerage system of the city has totally collapsed and most of the roads and streets are submerged in sewage.

Municipal Corporation Chief Officer Iqbal Farid told Dawn that the 250-kilometre-long sewerage system of the city had been laid in 2008, adding that only 13 sanitation workers out of the total 28 were deputed for its maintenance, while the rest were helpers. The MC was currently defaulting on Rs60 million out of which Rs30.86m were pensions of 484 employees, outstanding electricity, private contractors and outstanding petroleum products bills, he added.

Mr Farid further claimed that the MC was facing a financial crisis, lack of machinery as well as manpower to clean the city. There were only 13 obsolete open tractor trolleys to pick up garbage from 17 union councils of the city, which were insufficient. He regretted that out of 326 sanitary workers, only 166 performed their duty, while the rest took benefit of their political influence and shirked work.

Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2019