‘City needs no new civic law but implementation of existing ones’

January 09, 2020

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OVERFLOWING sewage on M.A. Jinnah Road on Wednesday creates problems in the smooth flow of traffic.—Shakil Adil/White Star
OVERFLOWING sewage on M.A. Jinnah Road on Wednesday creates problems in the smooth flow of traffic.—Shakil Adil/White Star

KARACHI: Karachi does not need any new civic laws but strict implementation of the existing ones to make this megacity liveable, a moot was told here.

According to details, a roundtable conference on the topic of ‘A public private partnership for a clean Karachi’ organised by Karachi Citizens Forum was held at PMA House here the previous evening.

Dr S.M. Qaisar Sajjad, secretary general, Pakistan Medical Association, who conducted the programme, said that there is increase in number of cases of waterborne diseases, mosquito and fly-borne diseases, skin infections, conjunctivitis and other ailments because of unhygienic conditions in the megacity.

There are about 30,000 garbage pickers and scavengers in Karachi who contract several diseases because of improper methodology of garbage collection, which is the major cause of epidemics in the city.

CM’s adviser says master plan for the city is in the works

Lack of civic sense

Nargis Rahman, chairperson Pakistan Women’s Foundation for Peace, said citizens also indulge in delinquent behaviour, littering, burning garbage, water contamination or water theft and disregarding the basics of civil living. In this connection we met key stakeholders, ulema, educationists, industrialists, traders, and were given a very patient hearing and promised support.

Industrialists and traders, as captains of industry and wealth, can take up responsibilities in treating their effluent, keeping their premises and service lanes clean and organised and beautifying roundabouts, parks, playgrounds at very low cost, she said.

She said we are shocked at the dissonance, division of authority, responsibilities, and the lack of coordination, collaboration and cooperation between the 18 different agencies responsible for Karachi’s civic governance.

Along with this are ghost workers, corruption, lack of funds, encroachment, political interference etc, which obviously means that there is a huge structural lacuna that needs to be addressed urgently.

Ms Rahman further said that Karachi needs a master plan; its problems cannot be solved without a master plan.

Kamal Azfar, former governor Sindh, informed the participants that three master plans were prepared for Karachi in the past and the Karachi Improvement Act was also passed in 1950. We don’t need new acts [and laws] but work on the city’s infrastructure to solve its problems. He stressed upon the need of empowering the mayor to resolve the civic issues of Karachi.

Burden of diseases

Dr Abdul Ghafoor Shoro, general secretary PMA Karachi, talked about the burden of diseases in the city and said that due to the civic crisis diseases like diarrhoea and typhoid were already widespread in Karachi and now its residents are badly affected by drug-resistant typhoid, which is not easily cured. The burden of diseases is worsening day by day.

Naval Wasvani was of the opinion that corruption is involved in lifting garbage. The garbage heaps are sold and are not lifted until they get the maximum rate.

Dr S. Tipu Sultan, former president PMA Centre, said burden of diseases is increasing day by day in Karachi due to non-availability of clean water. Worsening sewerage system and heaps of garbage are adding to the miseries of the people. Corruption is also the main reason behind this mess.

Barrister Murtaza Wahab, Adviser to Sindh Chief Minister on Law, Environment and Coastal Development, in his concluding remarks requested all the stakeholders and responsible institutions to come forward for collective efforts to solve the civic problems of Karachi.

Talking about the topic of the conference, he said that the Sindh government was certain that the solution to the

city’s problems lay in introducing public private partnership models in various sectors. We need to invest more in public private partnerships and set aside politics to clean the city.

He further said that Karachi’s issues could not be solved until citizens too made efforts in this regard, and added that ground realities needed to be considered in order to come up with practical solutions.

Speaking about cleaning the city of garbage piles, Wahab said the Sindh government, cantonment boards and all citizens are equally responsible.

Murtaza Wahab also pointed out that only talking about corruption will do little to solve the problems. He said, instead, we need to focus on addressing actual issues.

‘Master plan in the works’

Later, he apprised the participants of the conference that a master plan for Karachi is being prepared and the chief minister had constituted a committee to work on the development of Karachi. The committee includes city’s stakeholders and engineers as members.

Dr Qazi Wasiq, Dr Mirza Ali Azhar and Dr Ismail Memon also spoke on the occasion.

Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2020