THE shifting of hut dwellers to larger localities, despite resistance from some groups, had gained momentum. On July 19, 1971 it was claimed that the vastness of North Karachi where the slum dwellers from Garden West were rehabilitated, as was mentioned last week in this column, was getting a new look. The recently moved families had started constructing their huts on the 30x24ft pieces of land allotted to each family by the authorities. Only a few days back, the entire zone looked like a desert but the flow of the shifting households had injected a new life into it. The Karachi Development Authority (KDA) had planned to move 2,000 families from Garden West to North Karachi in the next two months. Despite that, the infrastructure of roads, bus service, water supply and electricity was yet to be made available to them.
The KDA at the time was in the news for one more reason which did not go down well with a good number of its workers. On July 22 it was reported that the KDA had decided to terminate services of 600 employees, both officers and staff. The main reason for doing that was completion of the second phase of the Greater Karachi Bulk Supply Scheme as a result of which all those working for the scheme had been declared surplus. Of them, there were 48 officials — 22 graduate engineers and 26 overseers.
While the KDA was busy with its relocating and retrenchment plans, the Karachi Municipal Corporation (KMC) was heading in the opposite direction. On July 21, the corporation said it would launch an ambitious programme for development and improvement of municipal services in the Drigh area which had recently been merged with the KMC. It proposed to spend Rs32.97 lakhs (Rs3.297 million) in the ongoing year by providing the locality with parks, roads, the sewage and water distribution systems, street lighting and better school buildings. The Drigh-Malir Municipal Committee was constituted by the government in 1969 by grouping the town committees of Drigh and Malir. Due to an insufficient tax base it did not generate funds to finance various municipal services in the locality.
The government therefore dissolved the committee and merged it with the KMC.
From hardcore news to a heartwarming piece of information: on July 24 the community welfare section of the Social Services Coordinating Council organised its sixth annual baby show. Wonder-eyed and wailing babies (from newborns to two-year-olds) spent three hours at a noisy competition held at the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA). Puzzled to find so many of their likes but unconcerned with the goings-on, the competing little ones “gave toothy as well as toothless smiles” all around or “howled to tears under the gaze of the inquisitive judges”. The event was held as an incentive to all the mothers for bringing up their children in an exemplary manner based on the principles of health and child psychology. The criterion for judging the babies was how much they weighed. They also had to be physically checked up in order to ascertain that all precautions against diseases were taken. As per the judges’ decision, the prize for the best cooperative mother was won by Mrs Hamida Taj Mohammad.
Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2021