KARACHI, Aug 22: The heavy rains a fortnight ago inundated large portions of Clifton and Defence Housing Authority and clearance activities were still underway when the spell of rain early Wednesday morning brought fresh floods in its wake. The submerging of a number of main thoroughfares and subsidiary roads reveals the dearth of effective drainage systems and an almost total lack of storm-water drains in these upmarket areas.

The aftermath of the rains in the first half of August was no less than a nightmare for DHA and Clifton residents, when waist- to knee-deep water collected in Phase-IV, V and VI of DHA, and some areas of Clifton, including Bath Island and Gulshan-e-Faisal. Residents complained of streets inundated with stinking water, which in some areas became mixed with sewage as the gutters overflowed. Basements were flooded and roads rendered impassable included B Street, Khayaban-e-Shujaat, 26th Street, Saba Avenue, Khayaban-e-Sehar, Khayaban-e-Shehbaz, Badar Commercial area and Khadda Market. Even the office of the Clifton Cantonment Board, which is also responsible for the municipal affairs of DHA, was surrounded by knee-deep, stagnant water.

According to a senior City District Government Karachi (CDGK) official, the joint CDGK and DHA operation had, by Tuesday, drained water from more than 80 per cent of the localities’ major thoroughfares. With yesterday’s rains, however, “the situation is back to square one,” said DHA public relations officer, Rafat Naqvi. He added, however, that “this time, the clearance efforts will proceed more quickly since the equipment and systems were already in place. We had launched an emergency operation after the last rains and those arrangements are intact; if it does not rain again, the situation should return to normal within a couple of days since the quantum of water is extremely high.”

A resident of Phase IV, near the Defence Imambargah, told Dawn that the water collected on the area’s streets is nearly six inches deep and the flooding is widespread. The situation is worsened by the heavy flow of traffic along the Phase IV Commercial Avenue (which is under nearly seven inches of water) since that is the only functioning link between Defence Imambargah and Khayaban-e-Bahria – the road in front of the Bahria petrol pump having been dug up for the installation of a storm-drain. The nullah parallel to Commercial Avenue, meanwhile, poses a severe hazard since it is under construction and uncovered.

Similarly, a resident of Khayaban-e-Shujaat complained that upon informing the DHA administration about collected rainwater, he was told that their area’s was the eighth in line for clearing.

According to Mr Naqvi, parts of Phase-IV, V and VI have been badly affected by the rains since they are in a low-lying catchment area, and he admitted to Dawn that the drainage system is inadequate. “There are genetic flaws in the masterplan because there is insufficient drainage. After the roads have been cleared and the spell of rain is over, DHA will have to invest heavily in a new and effective drainage system,” he commented, adding that the current clearance operation is being conducted jointly by the DHA and the CCB while the horticulture department has provided some sludge water bowsers. “The CDGK gave us equipment and manpower after the last rains and we are very grateful,” he said, “but that infrastructure has been withdrawn, naturally, because it is needed elsewhere.”

According to a statement issued by DHA, the equipment being used to clear the rain water includes suction pumps, mobile hydrants and sludge water bowsers. However, some witnesses have informed Dawn that tankers dedicated to transporting drinking water are also being used in the drainage operations.

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