• Shifting of people from 40 ‘extremely dangerous’ buildings in Karachi begins today
• DHA asks residents to secure their basement entrances and windows
• KE claims ‘arrangements’ made to ensure power supply
• Removal of billboards from high-rises to be completed by this evening, meeting told

 Amid cyclone warning and heavy winds and rains forecast in the next couple days in Karachi, a large number of fishing vessels have been anchored at the city harbour. However, a huge billboard (right) protrudes from the height of a building despite orders to remove such giant structures from high-rises.—AFP/ Shakil Adil / White Star
Amid cyclone warning and heavy winds and rains forecast in the next couple days in Karachi, a large number of fishing vessels have been anchored at the city harbour. However, a huge billboard (right) protrudes from the height of a building despite orders to remove such giant structures from high-rises.—AFP/ Shakil Adil / White Star

KARACHI: Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said on Sunday that keeping in view the warning of an approaching cyclone, arrangements had been made to evacuate people, if necessary, as Cyclone Biparjoy might cause heavy rains in Thatta, Badin, Sujawal, Karachi and other coastal areas in the province.

Speaking at the post-budget press conference, the chief minister took the opportunity to warn the people against coming out of their homes unnecessarily if the storm hit the coast.

He said three districts on the coastline —Thatta, Sujawal, and Badin —were in danger due to expected heavy rains; therefore, he had sent the Hyderabad commissioner to make necessary arrangements for evacuation of the people, if necessary.

He said that he had also ordered the Karachi commissioner to remove billboards and signboards from high-rise building in view of heavy rains and winds.

He said that he was in touch with the army to avoid any untoward incident.

Cyclone may not hit Karachi, meeting told

In connection with emergency arrangements, Commissioner of Karachi Mohammed Iqbal Memon chaired a meeting of officials of all concerned institutions in view of the approaching cyclone.

He directed them to finalise their respective safety plan till Monday evening.

Chief Meteorologist Dr Sardar Sarfraz informed the meeting that there were slim chances that the cyclone would touch Karachi’s coast. However, there was a possibility of heavy winds and moderate to heavy rains, he added.

Sindh Building Control Authority director general Yaseen Shar informed the meeting that there were 450 dangerous buildings in Karachi and notices had been issued to residents to vacate the same.

It was decided in the meeting that extremely dangerous building numbering 40 would be vacated by Monday evening.

 CM Murad Ali Shah makes a point during his post-budget press conference on Sunday.—APP
CM Murad Ali Shah makes a point during his post-budget press conference on Sunday.—APP

The meeting was told that removal of giant billboards would be completed by Monday evening.

The commissioner took notice of the violation of a ban on visiting beaches and asked the authorities for its strict implementation.

The K-Electric informed the meeting that they had taken steps to prevent electrocution and ensure power supply through ‘alternative arrangements’.

Health officials said that Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi and Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre were put on alert to meet any eventuality.

DHA issues guidelines for residents

Also on Sunday, the DHA also shared guidelines for residents on social media, advising them to secure their basement entrances and windows to prevent storm water from damaging their property.

“Make temporary wall with sandbags or block masonry at the entrance of basements. The drains at the main gates should be cleaned thoroughly. All naked or loose electric connections should be secured. All main holes and pipes should be cleaned,” it said in a tweet, asking them to remove valuable items from basements and ground floors and clear loose objects from rooftops to prevent them from being carried away by strong winds.

The DHA also asked its residents to have an ample supply of food, water, first aid kit and medicines. “Keep a ready supply of torches and candles in case of power outages,” it said.

Sindh financially stable, claims Murad

At the post-budget press conference, the chief minister said that there was economic stability in the province due to consistent economic and financial policies. “There has been one finance minister for the last five years in the province, so there is a financial stability,” he claimed.

He said that it was the third consecutive term of the Pakistan Peoples Party in the province. “People of the province elect us because we serve them,” he added.

He added that all mayors, deputy mayors, chairmen and vice-chairmen of local government would be from the PPP as the party candidates had been elected in the elections across the province.

The chief minister said that highest sum of funds had been allocated for education, health, law and order and local government departments in the over Rs2.25 trillion budget.

He said that uplift projects had been on priority of the provincial government as the government had also obtained loans for developmental schemes.

Mr Shah said that the province had witnessed the worst flood devastations and most of the province was inundated. “We immediately released funds to cope up with the situation and drain out the floodwater to make the land cultivatable,” he said adding that the provincial government’s efforts resulted into a bumper wheat crop.

Similarly, he claimed that the provincial government also released funds for timely repair and reconstruction of streets and roads devastated by heavy monsoon rains in Karachi.

He said that development works remained suspended for four to five months after the flood as the government had focused on relief and rehabilitation of the flood-hit people.

The chief minister said that works and services department had been allocated Rs140 billion for reconstruction of roads devastated by the floods under the provincial ADP.

He said that education department was allocated Rs35bn, health department Rs20bn, irrigation department Rs25bn, local government department Rs62bn, transport Rs8.5bn and public health engineering department Rs22bn.

Mr Shah said that the provincial government would allocate more funds if needed. He said as many as 772 schemes had been completed in the outgoing fiscal year.

“This year, there are 270 development projects across the province,” he said, adding that the next year would be better in terms of uplift and development in the province.

Murad Ali Shah said that uplift schemes of Rs182bn in Karachi had been included in the next year budget, which included over Rs100 million new schemes.

Besides, there were several foreign-funded development schemes of Rs7.1bn in Karachi in the next budget.

The chief minister said that Rs27bn was allocated for the uplift schemes under the Click project which would be executed by the local government department. “A sum of Rs27 billion has been earmarked for the Yellow Line,” he added.

Mr Shah said that four uplift schemes of Rs52bn were pending approval with the federal government.

Published in Dawn, June 12th, 2023

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