HYDERABAD/KARACHI: Less than a week before the date of polling for the second phase of local government elections in Sindh, deputy commissioners of as many as 10 districts in Hyderabad and Karachi divisions approached the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) asking them either to postpone the electoral process or review the situation due to devastation caused by torrential rains, it emerged on Monday.

Polling is due to be held on Aug 28 in total 16 districts — East, West, South, Central, Korangi, Keamari and Malir of Karachi division and Hyderabad, Dadu, Jamshoro, Matiari, Tando Muhammad Khan, Tando Allahyar, Badin, Sujawal and Thatta of Hyderabad division — in the second phase of the LG polls.

Recently, Sindh Election Commissioner Ejaz Anwar Chauhan had said that he was in touch with district administrations concerned and got reports that rainwater was still accumulated in Hyderabad, Matiari, Dadu, Badin, Thatta and Sujawal districts as well as area like Malir, Lyari, Kharadar, Mithadar of Karachi.

On Monday, almost all nine deputy commissioners of Hyderabad division and one DC of Karachi’s Malir district approached the ECP to seek postponement of the Aug 28 local government elections.

As many as 10 DCs approach ECP for postponement of Aug 28 polls in view of rain destruction

Jamshoro DC Fariduddin Mustafa confirmed having approached the Election Commission in writing to seek postponement of polls for 45 days.

In his letter, a copy of which is available with Dawn, he stated that the ECP had first postponed the LG polls scheduled for July 24 on account of heavy rainfall forecast.

The letter said that at present 375 out of 452 polling stations — 70 per cent of the total polling stations — were inaccessible presently in Jamshoro district and they were submerged by water.

The letter said that a report was sought from returning officers who had also expressed their inability to conduct the local government elections in view of heavy rainfall and floods in the district.

He requested the ECP to postpone the polls for 45 days as conduct of polls and supply of election material was not possible.

Hyderabad DC Fuad Soomro also confirmed having written a letter to the ECP for postponement of the LG polls “till situation improved”.

He stated in the letter said that Hyderabad district was affected due to heavy rainfall that caused a loss of human lives, livestock, crops, houses, public and private infrastructure including schools.

He said the Sindh Relief Commissioner had on Aug 21 declared Hyderabad district as a calamity-hit area. He stated that the LG polls on Aug 28 were not possible due to destruction and inaccessibility of buildings of schools, health facilities and other places.

He also referred to the forecast of another spell of rains in Hyderabad by the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) and the meteorological department.

The Tando Mohammad Khan DC also wrote a letter to the ECP seeking postponement of the LG elections for 45 days.

However, the Badin DC requested the ECP to postpone the LG polls for 60 days in view of current situation arising out of rains. He stated that all districts of Hyderabad division had been declared calamity affected. He said all ROs had reported that they were unable to conduct the LG polls in view of rains.

Sujawal DC Shaharyar Memon stated that polling was to take place on 233 polling stations of which 66 were in coastal talukas of Jati and Shah Bunder districts which were adversely affected by rainfall, leaving infrastructure as dangerous and roads inaccessible. He said in view of this factual position necessary action may be taken by PEC.

In Karachi, the Malir deputy commissioner wrote to the ECP that the ongoing monsoon spell had played havoc on district Malir and there were a number of populated areas which “are still inaccessible and have deprived of basic amenities” due to heavy downpour.

The letter stated that the district administration was taking all-out efforts to hold LG polls, “it seems a bit unpredictable to commit or guarantee at the current stage as to whether the polling would be fesible or not in certain areas of Gadap bordering with Balochistan where road network is completely damaged”.

Published in Dawn, August 23rd, 2022

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