KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that the city received a record rain of 342.4 mm between July 10 (from 8 pm to July 11 upto 2 pm) even then the rainwater was disposed of as and when the rain stopped.
“But some so-called champions of the city are accusing the provincial government of its failure to drain out the accumulated rainwater as a matter of fact the city was cleared, except the low lying areas by the evening of July 11.”
This he said while addressing a press conference at CM House. Provincial Ministers, Sharjeel Inam Memon, Imtiaz Shaikh, Syed Nasir Shah, Advisor to CM Rasool Bux Chandio were present on the occasion.
Shah said that in 2007 the city had received 140 mm rainfall and the entire city had turned into the largest cesspit of stagnant water and over 200 people had died. The then minister of health had given these figures. “It was not our tenure and the city had drowned with a downpour of 140 mm,” he was surprised.
Talking about July 2009 rains, Murad Ali Shah said that the city had received 200 mm rainfall which had claimed over 52 lives. He added that the rainfall of 125 mm on August 31, 2009 in the city created one of the greatest havoc of urban flooding, and traffic jams had lasted for many days. “That time the world’s best nazim was ruling the city but even then, everything went upside down,” he recalled.
Shah, showing a slide of some newspapers on the screen of 150 mm rainfall in August 2020, said seven people had died and the city had turned into a gigantic cesspool. Contrary to 2007, 2009 and 2020, the city received 342.4 mm rain, including 106 mm in July and 126 mm upto 2pm on July 12.
“This was a record rainfall in the history of the city but now the infrastructure of the city in terms of disposal of the water was built, therefore the rainwater disposed of within 24 hours and our teams comprising provincial ministers, advisors and government officers suctioned out water from the depressions, low-lying areas and from the underpasses with the help of machinery and pumps.
The CM said that people slaughter sacrificial animals on the roads. “The district central has the largest number of slaughters in the country,” he said and added the Solid waste management had started lifting the offal when the rain started, therefore the lifting [the offal] work was stopped, and the backlog emerged and now it has been cleared.
Murad Ali Shah said that after completion of Clifton Sewage pumping station for Rs493 million it catered to the sewage disposal of large areas and served the various vicinities, including Clifton Blocks: 1 to 9, Bath Island, Clifton, Civil Lines and Cantt: Station areas. I.I. Chundrigar Road. Shahrah-e-Faisal, Starting from Gora Graveyard, M.A. Jinnah Road, Bolton Market & Kapra Market, Saddar and Old City Areas, Lines Area, Lucky Star, Nishtar Road, Napier Road and Jodia Bazar.
The CM said that KWSB had a fleet of 36 Suction and Jetting Machines upto the year 2010. “Frequent sewage overflows are encountered across Karachi due to overloading of the sewerage system,” he said and added that the addition of 20 new Suction & Jetting Machines has improved KW&SB’s capacity to clean and de-silt the affected sewerage system of Karachi.
Shah said that another lot of 56 Suction & Jetting Machines were being added to existing fleet under the World Bank funded KWSSIP Project and in this way the total number of Machines would be increased to 112 within next six months.
To a question the chief minister said that the stormwater system was not designed for such a huge rainfall. “The cities London has such a huge storm water drain because it receives the rain, light and heavy, almost the whole year,” he said and added we, in Karachi receive such heavy downpour once in five to eight years, therefore we could not afford to invest billions of rupees on its expansion by digging the entire city.
According to the CM these heavy rains were the results of climate change, and his government was working on different projects to mitigate its effects.
The CM said that various areas such as Saadi Town, areas of cantonments have been constructed on the natural waterways which have blocked the natural flow of rainwater in gravity. He added that the local government office at Tughlaq House was built on the storm water drain, similarly, parking of Ombudsman, Supreme court, Shaheen Complex and a media house was built on the storm water drain. “I have not built or allowed these encroachments on the nullah but yes, I’ll talk to the cabinet and if they allow me I would bulldoze the Local government department office on the nullah and then request the others to follow the course,” he said.
Murad Ali Shah questioned who had commercialized the main roads and allotted the lands on and along the storm water drains. “I would urge the media to explore the tenures of Martial laws, Jamaat Islami, MQM and PTI in terms of allowing illegal construction, illegal allotment and commercialization and allowing establishment of residential societies on the natural waterways and who had played havoc with this city and its resources,” he suggested the TOR of stories.
Replying to a question, Mr Shah said that the DHA has a problem in disposal of rainwater. “Last year they [DHA] had constructed a drainage system but it failed to cater to the requirement of such a heavy rain,” he said and added his government was in touch with DHA and cantonment authorities to help them.
The CM said that when he had visited different nullas and pumping stations he discovered that the plastic shopping bags had choked them. “We would have to address this issue seriously,” he said.
To a question about MQM criticism of the Sindh government, Murad Ali Shah said that they were in opposition. “They are not our partners in the provincial government and the local bodies elections are over the head- the criticism might be aimed at attracting the voters,” he said.
The CM said that his leadership would scold them if any of the provincial ministers or leaders chose to criticize the MQM as they were. He urged the MQM leadership to take note of their leaders’ press conferences and statements.
The chief minister said that his government has served people of the city with heart and soul. “I sure the PPP would clinch the slot of Mayer during the upcoming local bodies election,” he hoped.
Criticizing the PTI, the CM said that they had 14 seats from the city and ruled around four years in the Center, but they did not give anything to this city, except the lip service. “PTI was given 14 seats and how they had got them I know very well,” he said and added “one of my friends in PTI confided in me that he was sleeping at his home and when he woke up in the morning, he was told that he had returned in the election.”
To another question, the CM said that one of the PTI MPA was saying that 22 cases have been registered against you. “These cases would not be framed if he stops land grabbing,” he said and added he has nothing to do with framing the cases, but the law was taking its own course.
Shah said that Nooriabad Power plant was supplying 100 MW uninterrupted electricity to Karachi but even then, a reference was filed against him which he and his team were facing.
Talking about Imran Khan, the chief minister said that he had stolen valuables from Toshakhan but he was branding others as thieves. “You [Imran Khan] had smuggled wheat of Punjab to Afghanistan even then you are honest and others are thieves – you are involved in the sugar scandal of 2020, but you are honest and others are thieves,” he said.
Replying to a question, the chief minister said that his government has made necessary arrangements to face the upcoming new rain spell starting from tomorrow. “We are also working to launch some rainwater disposal projects keeping in view the issues we face these days,” he said.
The chief minister complaining with the media said that they were only showing Karachi, particularly the low-lying areas where water had accumulated but the rains have submerged the cities of other provinces, but they did not bother to show them on their screens. “I welcome your genuine criticism, but exaggeration has also been made,” he deplored.