KARACHI: The secretary of local government department on Thursday informed the Sindh High Court that the provincial cabinet had allowed execution of cleaning activities of 14 major and 514 small storm-water drains of the city.
Secretary Najam Ahmed Shah in his report further contended that an amount of Rs250 million had been placed at the disposal of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation for this purpose.
It further asserted that the local government department would oversee the clearing drive and a committee would be constituted and notified soon in this regard.
However, the report is silent about the timeline as it is not mentioned when the clearing drive of nullahs would be commenced and how much time is needed to complete the process.
Two witnesses fail to identify Uzair Baloch in court
The progress report was filed during the hearing of a petition filed last year seeking an inquiry into the breakdown of civic life in the metropolis due to torrential rains in 2020 and compensation for the affected people.
The report further said that under the provisions of the Sindh Local Government Act, 2013 the administrator of KMC had submitted a note that it was critical to start cleaning of nullahs immediately to mitigate possible urban flooding in the provincial metropolis and LG department placed it before the provincial cabinet.
Meanwhile, the Clifton, Karachi, Faisal and Malir contentment boards in their comments contended that no adverse incident took place during last year’s rains in their jurisdictions and there was also “factual controversy” which could not be resolved in writ jurisdiction of the SHC.
The petitioner Advocate Nadeem Shaikh had contended that the unplanned growth of the city and large-scale encroachments particularly on drains, poorly designed roads and drainage system have caused flooding and unparalleled damage in the city.
He further argued that the main entrances of three major hospitals of the city were flooded, the main thoroughfares became pools of water and various emergency telephone numbers were out of order during the rains.
He asserted that the disastrous spell of rains had left Karachi paralysed and over 40 people had lost their lives in rain-related incidents and electrocutions.
Cases against Uzair
Two key prosecution witnesses remained unable to identify alleged Lyari kingpin Uzair Baloch before an antiterrorism court in numerous cases.
Uzair has been charged with the murder of a member of Katchi Rabita Committee and encounter with police in 2012 within the remit of the Kalri police station in Lyari.
Two witnesses Rajab Ali and Faqir Mohammad recorded their statements before the trial court, but refused to identify Uzair, who was present in the courtroom, as an accused.
The prosecution said that both witnesses in their statements recorded by police under Section 161 of the criminal procedure code had named Uzair Baloch as one of the accused.
The witnesses said that they had not given such testimonies to police.
Uzair Baloch, who is facing multiple cases, including the murder of his arch-rival Arshad Pappu, was detained by Rangers and then handed over to police following his mysterious arrest in January 2016.
He has so far been acquitted in a number of such cases.
However, a military court had sentenced him to 12 years in prison for his involvement in espionage activities and working for foreign intelligence agencies.
Published in Dawn, July 2nd, 2021