ISLAMABAD: National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) chairman Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal has called for consensus on a long-term plan to address Karachi’s woes by averting rain crisis in the country’s economic hub in future.
Speaking at a press conference here on Sunday, he said that efforts were afoot to evolve consensus among all stakeholders, including the federal and provincial governments and their relevant departments.
He said that after the recent devastating rains in the megacity, he had been asked by Prime Minister Imran Khan to visit Karachi to hold meetings with stakeholders in the city.
He said he held three meetings with the Sindh chief minister and during one of these meetings, Karachi’s Corps Commander was also present.
He said the Corps Commander also held two separate meetings with the chief minister.
Karachi corps told to take steps for disaster mitigation for upcoming rains
He said the local corps had been ordered to take steps for disaster mitigation in the megacity during the upcoming rains.
He said the next rain system was likely to enter Karachi on Aug 7 and it would start weakening on August 9 while another spell of rains was likely on Aug15.
He said up to 83mm of rain lashed Karachi during the recent downpour, which badly affected the sewerage system and nullahs already working beyond their capacity.
He said it was imperative to understand Karachi’s problems to find out a permanent solution to the issue.
He said some 20,000 tonnes of solid waste was generated in the megacity on a daily basis and out of it only three to four thousand tonnes was picked up by the people to recycle it for useful purposes.
He said the solid waste was a source of revenue across the world, but in case of Karachi it had turned out to be a huge problem needing immediate attention for resolution.
He said the population of Karachi had increased massively over the last three decades.
He said encroachments along nullahs of the megacity was another problem, retarding cleaning efforts of the departments concerned.
He said that sewerage water was treated all over the world before its entry to the main sewerage system, but it was not done in Karachi and this had led to settling down of heavy sediments thereby choking the entire system.
He said a long-term planning for Karachi was not possible unless these issues were addressed.
He said under the Corps Headquarters Karachi and with coordination of the provincial and district governments and departments under them work would be done on minimising losses during coming rains.
He said there was need for all stakeholders to sit together in the next phase to create consensus on all issues to resolve Karachi’s sewerage problems permanently.
He said if consensus was evolved in the next three to four months, work would be started for a permanent solution. About distribution of work for immediate disaster mitigation he said the Frontier Works Organisation had been given the task of ensuring cleaning of big nullahs such as Gujjar Nullah, Cantonment Board Nullah and the Nullah in District West.
When asked if the Karachi rain disaster was a failure of the provincial government, he said it was better to avoid pointing fingers at each other and work as a team to provide relief to the masses during the rainy season.
Published in Dawn, August 4th, 2020