Governor highlights issues blocking execution of mega projects in Karachi

Published July 5, 2021
Sindh Governor Imran Ismail speaks at the Safe Karachi conference. — Photo by writer
Sindh Governor Imran Ismail speaks at the Safe Karachi conference. — Photo by writer

KARACHI: Sindh Governor Imran Ismail has said that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) have their own ways of looking at things that may keep projects in Karachi moving ahead.

He was speaking at the ‘Safe Karachi’ conference organised by the Corporate Pakistan Group at a local hotel on Sunday to create awareness about the challenges faced by Karachi and focus on the key problems faced by the city’s administration, residents, service providers and businesses.

“A Karachi I grew up in was a clean and vibrant city. It was a different city. People used to come from all over the county to see Karachi. Then we also saw Karachi nose diving. There were thefts happening here, murders happening here. The lawlessness saw the departure of industry from here. Big business houses also left Karachi,” the governor said.

“Everyone was looking at the law enforcement agencies to do something for Karachi. And then the Rangers, the police and even the Army stepped in. There was a battle between peace and terrorism in which peace won. But the once-vibrant Karachi also needed attention on other things such as garbage disposal, utilities, infrastructure, etc. But all these things got ignored during the fight against lawlessness and terrorism,” he pointed out.

About the water scarcity issue in Karachi he said that the K-IV project looked like a non-starter. “I was told that it was a dead horse. It was a Sindh government and federal government project and there was already Rs25 billion spent on it. Then the expenditure grew to 600 billion. It needed pumping stations, bridges, power supply, etc. — things that were not taken into account. They were looking at just a channel,” he said. “But then big meeting followed. It was decided that the channel could be dealt with by the federal government whereas the Sindh government could take care of augmentation. Wapda, too, is looking into things now,” he said.

“Likewise, there is also the transport issue. There is the Green Line and the Orange Line that should solve several of Karachi’s transport issues, hopefully,” he said, adding that politics always got involved in such projects and the PTI government in Islambad and the PPP government in Sindh did not always see eye to eye.

“The federal government also wanted to build a new city on the Bundal and Buddu islands. It had offered the revenue generated from these islands to the Sindh government but Sindh stopped the project from taking off. There was also development of Karachi that the federal government had the mandate for, and for which there was an amount of Rs900 billion set aside but there are hurdles here too,” the governor said.

“But,” he added, “Karachi is a resilient. It bounces back and all the ethnicities here make this city what it is. They want to move ahead together in this city. It is sad that we in 2021 are still discussing how to make Karachi safe, which should have happened 10 to 12 years ago because Pakistan’s biggest economically vibrant city needs to be safe. It deserves to be safe because Karachi is not a needy city. It is a city that helps others earn,” he said.

Sindh Minister for Local Government, Housing, Town Planning and Information, Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, who is also chairman of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board, regretted that Karachi’s census was full of faults and, therefore, the city remained at loss in the federal budget. “There is a big difference between our census and the census done by Unicef,” he pointed out. “People don’t just visit Karachi, they move here as it provides them with livelihood,” he said.

About the other problems faced by the city, he said that things such as waste management was the work of the District Municipal Corporations (DMCs). “And the DMCs are not doing their work properly. So we set up the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board. Initially, its work started in District South and District East, which was no that great. Then District West and Malir also came in followed by Districts Central and Korangi. Now there are approvals for tenders and as the work gets going in all the districts of Karachi; you will see improvement in the entire city,” he said.

More issues discussed by him included the power theft for which, he said, only K-Electric could do something by developing a special wiring system to stop the menace.

He also said that it was not right to blame the Sindh government for everything. “You like to blame the Sindh government for so many things but you don’t see the addition in the GDP. We have also introduced so many new schemes for Karachi and wherever we see more work happening, we will support it more financially with the money set aside for these schemes in our budget,” he said.

Other speakers at the conference included chairman of Senate’s standing committee on industries and production Faisal Sabzwari, former federal finance minister Miftah Ismail, dean faculty of architecture and management sciences at NED University Prof Dr Noman Ahmed, CPLC chairman Zubair Habib and former Karachi administrator Fahim Uz Zaman.

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2021

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