Centre comes under fire over formation of body to address Karachi’s problems

Updated September 12, 2019

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THE chief minister and the governor, accompanied by other officials, offer Fateha at the Quaid’s mausoleum on Wednesday.—PPI
THE chief minister and the governor, accompanied by other officials, offer Fateha at the Quaid’s mausoleum on Wednesday.—PPI

KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that the federal government has constituted a strategic committee for Karachi without consulting or taking him into confidence.

He said he had heard about the formation of the committee on TV channels. “I don’t know what the committee will do and what its mandate [is].”

He was talking to reporters at the Quaid’s mausoleum, where he came to pay his respects on the occasion of his 71st death anniversary along with Sindh Governor Imran Ismail.

The CM says he was not consulted; the governor explains the body will examine the job of various civic agencies

In response to a question, the chief minister said he was neither consulted nor taken into confidence on the formation of the committee on Karachi’s affairs.

Explaining the objective of the committee, Governor Ismail said that the committee was constituted under Federal Law Minister Farogh Naseem and its task was to examine the job of various civic authorities such as the Karachi Port Trust, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, district municipal corporations and other agencies operating in the city.

The committee would also explore ways and means to see whether a single authority could be made and submit its recommendations to the federal government, he added.

Explaining the working of the local bodies, the chief minister said that the lifting of garbage and sweeping of roads and cities were the jobs of the local government.

He said that cleaning of major storm-water drains was the responsibility of the KMC while some smaller nullahs were with the DMCs. The sweeping of roads was the main assignment of DMCs, he added.

Steps being taken to improve SSWMB

He claimed that the city was generating around 4,000 tonnes of garbage daily when the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board (SSWMB) was created. But now it was generating around 16,000 tonnes daily, he added.

“The SSWMB did not snatch the cleanliness work from DMCs forcibly but it was given to them through a council resolution passed by DMCs,” he said and added that steps had been taken to further improve the performance of the solid waste management board.

About launching a cleanliness drive, he said his government would take some extraordinary steps to lift the garbage accumulated near roads and on open plots.

He brushed aside the impression of opposing the cleanliness drive launched by Maritime Affairs Minister Ali Zaidi and said he had only opposed the filth and garbage taken out from drains being left along main roads and near parks. The exercise had further aggravated the unhygienic condition of the city and resulted in spread of flies and mosquitoes, he said.

Paying homage to Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the chief minister said that Pakistan was created by him and now “it becomes our national responsibility to make this country a peaceful, prosperous state where people of different religions, languages and sects can enjoy equal rights”.

He said that he, his cabinet members and the governor visited the Quaid’s mausoleum to pay respect on the occasion of his 71st death anniversary. “He was a great leader, his vision and teachings were enough to make this country democratically strong,” he said.

He also appreciated Kashmiri people for continuing their struggle against Indian atrocities. “You are our brothers and sisters and we as a nation will be supporting your cause and raising voice for you,” he said.

Governor Ismail also paid rich tributes to Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

Earlier, the chief minister, the governor and cabinet members offered fateha and recorded their impressions in the visitors’ book.

‘PPP won’t allow parallel system for Karachi’

Also on Wednesday, PPP leader and Information Minister Saeed Ghani warned that the provincial government would not allow any “parallel system” to run the affairs of the metropolis from the Centre.

Speaking at a press conference, he said that PM Imran Khan and his team did not take the Sindh government and chief minister into confidence before announcing the committee on Karachi.

“We have only heard this through media,” he said. “But this should be very clear to everyone. We will not allow any alternative system to be made before the provincial government. The federal government would have to work within the purview of the Constitution and law, which don’t allow any such move in the presence of an elected government.”

He said that for the last few days various claims were being made again to solve Karachi’s problems in one go.

He wondered over the mandate of the new committee for Karachi when a Karachi transformation committee was already constituted by the Centre over the same issues.

The prime minister was asked for Rs200 billion for Karachi’s projects but he preferred to announce a package of Rs162bn. “But it’s quite unfortunate that nothing has materialised yet.”

“Instead, the federal government has allocated only Rs12bn and only Rs3bn of the total funds would be given to the Sindh government. One cannot trust the commitments of the federal government when it comes to Karachi,” he added.

Ghani seeks action against Minister Ali Zaidi

He blamed Maritime Affairs Minister Zaidi for turning the city into a dumping ground, as his Clean Karachi campaign had not only “miserably failed” but also created serious issues of cleanliness.

Mr Ghani also came up with fresh data to prove his claims and demanded the federal government take action against Mr Zaidi.

“During much media fanfare, a claim was made that 1.5 million tonnes of garbage was extracted and shifted to landfill site during the [Clean Karachi] campaign,” he said referring to the past claims made by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leaders. “The fact is only 13,000 tonnes of waste was transported to landfill sites. Is that a joke with people of Karachi or just a media gimmick to win airtime or get spotlight?”

The provincial minister also criticised the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) for being “used by the PTI” and questioned the performance of the party in Karachi while leading the municipal government for the past many years.

Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2019