A Historic Package for Karachi’s Transformation

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Meher Azeem Hakro
The record-breaking monsoon rains wreaked havoc in Karachi, killing dozens. It was the highest rainfall record over the last 90 years. Rainwater and overflowed water from nullahs and drains flooded most of the main roads and streets in residential locations, a significant number of residential areas that gravely disrupted the people’s lives. Most of Karachi infrastructure was destroyed in the rains. In addition, the cotton, chili and vegetable crops in interior Sindh have been completely destroyed, causing billions of rupees in losses. In this regard, Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced a historic financial package of
Rs 1.1 trillion for the infrastructure development of Karachi. The Prime Minister said that the federal and Sindh governments have decided to tackle Karachi problems together, both of which have contributed to the Rs. 1,113 billion. Under the Karachi Transformation Plan all the chronic issues of Karachi including provision of water supply projects, sewage and solid waste disposal, drains clearance, and mass transit, rail road transport will be resolved. Federal and Sindh governments have also agreed to set up a Provincial Coordination and Implementation Committee (PCIC) for on board all stakeholders to swiftly resolve the burning issues of Karachi. It is prior to mention that the NDMA had timely warned provincial governments that this year the monsoon was expected as above-average rainfall across the country. Therefore, the provincial governments should make all the precautionary measures in the districts to improve the drainage system of the cities, strengthen the canals and the deteriorating condition of the river banks so that the damage caused by the flood could be minimized. Besides that, the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) had also predicted more rains than usual. The way the rainwater has
penetrated the streets and houses, it seems that the government had not made any special
preparations. It is clear from this catastrophe that the warnings of NDMA and PMD were not seriously taken by the provincial governments. The nation will surely remember that in 2003, Sindh province wasbadly affected when above normal monsoon rainfall caused flooding in the province; urban flooding also hit Karachi created disaster in the city. In 2007, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Balochistan were also badly affected due to monsoon rainfall. More than 150 people died and 2,000 were displaced in Khyber-
Pakhtunkhwa, while 830 people died in Balochistan and Sindh due to flash floods. In July 2010 floods in Pakistan began with heavy monsoon rains in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan. Heavy rains inundated several cities, causing severe damage to the economy and caused deaths. About one-fifth of the total land area of Pakistan was affected by the floods and also caused a humanitarian disaster. It was the worst flood in Pakistan’s history. The floods directly affected about 20 million people, mostly property, livelihoods and infrastructure and killing nearly 2,000 people. The floods destroyed homes, crops, livestock and urban infrastructure, and left millions suffering from malnutrition
and water-borne diseases. All the destruction in 2010 happened because governments were not ready to control floods. It is very encouraging move that PTI and PPP have acted wisely and put their differences aside for the sake of Karachi. However, no package has been announced for the damage caused to crops in interior Sindh. The recent rains have put tremendous pressure on most districts. The damage is so severe that all recent crops, especially the cotton crop, have been severely damaged. This situation requires immediate action and relief by the government as not only the crops but also the houses of the farmers have been washed away, and their hardships have multiplied.-

(-The writer is a freelance columnist. )

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