THE month of February is, usually, not considered the true representative of Karachi’s winter season — at least, that’s not been the case for the last couple of decades. But on Feb 5, 1974 Civil and Jinnah hospitals received 16 patients of pneumonia from different parts of the city due to ‘exposure to cold’. Fifteen of them were children and one was an old woman. According to the Met office, a ridge of high pressure was lying over Balochistan and Sindh. It was not the ‘usual’ cold wave but the nights had become colder. That day in Karachi, the minimum temperature recorded in the morning was 47 degrees F and the Met office had expected a further fall of three degrees in the next 24 hours.

The weather conditions, however, did not come in the way of devising plans to enable the Sindh capital meet contemporary challenges. On Feb 6, Provincial Minister for Town Planning and Local Government Jam Sadiq Ali asked the Karachi Port Trust, the Pakistan Works Department, housing societies and the cantonment boards to take up the construction of storm water drains in their respective areas immediately. He was presiding over a meeting held for the implementation of the Greater Karachi Storm Water Drainage Scheme hosted by the Karachi Development Authority (KDA). Mr Ali told participants that the Prime Minister, Z A Bhutto, was keen on the project. The scheme had been prepared by KDA consultants and a foreign firm.

In a similar spirit, on Feb 7, designs to build new filter plants, pumping stations, reservoirs and other works for the third phase of the Bulk Water Supply Scheme were invited by the KDA in a fortnight from experts all around the world. It was learnt that the provincial government had released an amount of Rs10 million out of an estimated cost of Rs114.7m for the first part of the third phase whose total cost was Rs290m. The prime minister had given his approval for the scheme.

Mr Bhutto was in the news on Feb 9, again, when it was claimed that the Karachi Municipal Corporation (KMC) had finalised plans for constructing an ‘Olympic size’ swimming pool at the Kashmir Road Sports Complex following a directive by the prime minister during his last visit to the city. The project, which was one of those that were on the KMC’s priority list, was originally earmarked for the fourth phase of the sports complex. It contained a pool which was 165ft long, 68ft wide and 5.5ft deep at both ends having nine lanes.

And on Feb 10, Dawn in a story said that a panel comprising representatives of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the WHO, Unicef and Unesco would soon start discussions to evaluate the proposals in the final report of the Karachi Development Plan for 1974-85. The plan for the Karachi metropolitan region envisaged an investment of Rs1700 crore spread over 11 years to provide basic amenities such as water, housing, the sewerage system, transport and health facilities to the fast growing population of the city which was expected to hit the seven-million mark by 1985.

Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2024

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