KARACHI: As several parts of the metropolis remained submerged by rainwater on Friday after Thursday’s light-to-moderate rains, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government made it clear that it was primarily the responsibility of the provincial authorities to fix flaws, if any, in the infrastructure of the Green Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project that could have damaged the Central district’s drainage and sewerage system.
The reaction came from a key member of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet, who claimed that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government in Sindh was only raising a hue and cry over the media as it had never formally approached the authorities in Islamabad regarding any flaws in the Green Line project infrastructure.
He went on to offer the role of the federal government to fix the problem once and for all if the Sindh authorities could not handle the situation and found it hard to find any solution.
Project work blamed for flooding after rain
“When we came to power [in August 2018] and took charge of the Green Line project, the ground infrastructure was very much built as the project was already launched [in Feb 2016],” Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar told Dawn.
Mr Umar was responding to a question about the allegations of the Sindh government, which after Thursday’s rain and urban flooding, mainly in the Central district, had warned that the situation was unlikely to improve because of huge, concrete and kilometres-long infrastructure of the Green Line bus service that reportedly had led to almost collapse of the Central district’s drainage and sewerage system.
“We continued with the project and the project has now been completed. We have never received any complaint from the Sindh government about any drainage or sewage problem they are facing. Now the sewage, drainage or whatever local problems, they are needed to be fixed by the provincial government. While taking care of Karachi Transformation Plan, I personally hold frequent meetings with Sindh officials, including the chief minister, but I was never told about any such shortcoming in the project. I only heard it last night [Thursday] over media.”
On Thursday Karachi administrator and Sindh government spokesman Barrister Murtaza Wahab called the federal-funded Green Line project as the main source of flooding in the Central district. He even complained of receiving ‘no response’ from the federal government’s Sindh Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (SIDCL) despite bringing the complaint in its notice.
“Last year we had witnessed the same hue and cry after rains and this year here it’s again,” said the administrator. “We have both — formally and informally — requested the SIDCL to fix this problem but they don’t pay any heed. The situation here [Nagan Chowrangi and Shehrshah Suri Road] would not improve if they [SIDCL] don’t fix it.”
Claim of ‘visible difference’ this year
However, the PTI’s government doesn’t sound convinced and to strengthen his claim Mr Umar referred to other parts of the city where the Islamabad-funded projects had helped drain the rainwater out and saved them from urban flooding.
“It’s not alone the Central district which faced the same situation, as there were other parts of the city as well where rainwater always caused damages,” he said.
“But this year a visible difference was seen due to cleanliness of three major nullahs by the federal government — Mahmoodabad, Gujjar and Orangi Town,” he claimed.
The minister went on to say: “If the Sindh government is not capable of fixing the problem in the Central district, we would do this as well. But please say that you [Sindh government] cannot do it. The federal government will do it happily.”
Published in Dawn, September 25th, 2021