Irked by Sindh govt’s performance, SC hands over cleaning of all Karachi drains to NDMA

Updated 13 Aug 2020

Email

Clogged gutters and drains, as seen here in North Karachi on Wednesday, have resulted in filthy conditions in the city, and have aided urban flooding during rainfall. — Fahim Siddiqi/White Star
Clogged gutters and drains, as seen here in North Karachi on Wednesday, have resulted in filthy conditions in the city, and have aided urban flooding during rainfall. — Fahim Siddiqi/White Star

KARACHI: Terming it a failure of the Sindh government that the federal authorities were coming to their aid, the Supreme Court on Wednesday tasked the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) with the cleaning of all storm-water drains in Karachi and removal of encroachments from them in a period of three months.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed also directed the provincial government to extend full cooperation to the NDMA and ensure resettlement of the affected people.

The CJP remarked that it was the failure of the provincial government as the basic rights and facilities had not been provided to the people and the federal authorities were coming to their aid.

The court expressed displeasure over the deteriorating sanitation system and encroachments on public spaces of the city and observed that the Sindh government, which has been in power since long, had failed to deliver as the situation in other parts of Sindh was not different from Karachi.

CJP says Karachi has turned into a goth; attorney general says centre considering constitutional, legal options to fix city’s woes

The CJP asked who would resolve the issues of the province.

Read: Monsoon floods expose blockages in Karachi's drains — and politics

Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan informed the bench that he talked to the prime minister over the multiple civic and other issues of Karachi and said that the federal government had no intention to interfere in the affairs of the provincial government.

However, he said keeping in view the worsening situation of the provincial metropolis the federal government was considering available constitutional and legal options in order to fix these issues.

At the outset of the hearing, Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Shallwani submitted a report regarding the drains and said that the drive against removal of encroachments from drains was being resisted.

He submitted that there were 38 main drains/nullahs in the city and 514 small drains and the NDMA was cleaning three major drains of the city.

The chief justice questioned the provincial and local authorities, saying that they knew about the monsoon season and why steps had not been taken in a timely manner.

The bench, also comprising Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan, directed the NDMA to file a compliance report in three months and hinted at giving it more tasks related to Karachi in future.

Advocate General Sindh Salman Talibuddin said that a law and order situation was created when authorities launched a drive against encroachments.

The chief justice remarked that almost the entire city had been encroached upon and it was the failure of authorities that Karachi was turned into a goth (village).

Read: Exploring why Karachi's rainwater has nowhere to go

Justice Arab said that people were approaching courts over non-provision of water and power, adding that they were being deprived of their basic rights.

The chief justice expressed concerns over corrupt elements in the province and remarked that they were the hurdle in implementation of the law.

Illegal documents were being registered and the ownerships of properties being fraudulently changed against a bribe, the court observed.

The advocate general said that orders of apex courts were encouraging for them and the encroachments from Empress Market in Saddar were also removed on SC directives.

Justice Ahsan asked why the authorities concerned, which have administrative powers to fix all problems, were waiting for directives of the apex court in every issue including cleaning of drains.

KPT’s review petition

The Karachi Port Trust approached the apex court seeking review of its earlier order for declaring the allotment of the land on both sides of Mai Kolachi Road illegal.

On Wednesday, the bench restrained it from payment of dues regarding sale of the land in question to third party and said that the third party may approach a relevant forum for their payments.

It added that the review petition would be heard at the Supreme Court’s principal bench in Islamabad.

In February, the apex court had declared allotment of land to the KPT Cooperative Housing Society illegal and directed the KPT chairman to ensure plantation of mangroves on the said land within three months.

Meanwhile, the bench disposed of the bail applications of former chairman of the Fisherman Cooperative Society and others in a corruption reference and directed the trial court to conclude the trial in 45 days.

The ex-chairman of FCS, Nisar Morai, and other officials moved the apex court for bail.

The National Accountability Bureau had filed a reference in 2018 against Morai and others for allegedly misusing authority, embezzlement of funds, illegal appointments and awarding fake contracts during 2014-15 causing a loss of over Rs343 million to national exchequer.

Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2020