KARACHI - Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that many people have been responsible for wreaking havoc in Karachi but the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) ruling in the province has been working for the last 10 years in improving the city.

He stated this while visiting several parts of Karachi late on Friday night to personally inspect emergency drainage work along with Information Minister Nasir Shah and Education and Local Bodies Minister Saeed Ghani as 185 milimetres of rain in a day virtually submerged several areas especially the Central and West districts causing serious hardships to residents.

“I have lived in these areas for a period more than your age,” said the CM while responding to the query of a young TV reporter who asked him about the plight of the city’s civic infrastructure after a single spell of heavy rain. About the District Central of Karachi-home to most of the main residential localities in Karachi whose several areas faced municipal emergency after heavy rain on Friday-the CM said that rapid commercialization of vast localities was the main civic issue of the district.

“I used to visit these localities in the decade of 1980s. These areas used to have big houses built on 2,000 square yards areas as all have gone today,” he said. He told that high-rise buildings having up to 20 stories had been built in place of these houses.

Shah said that he was not the CM of the province when the rapid commercialization of Karachi had taken place. “The law they made it then ruined this city,” said the CM while referring to Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) without naming the political party that in the previous regimes controlled the civic affairs of Karachi and responsible for rapidly transforming the city.

Responding to a query about the help received by his government from the federally run National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the CM acknowledged that the NDMA had lately done good work in Karachi by cleaning its three main storm water drains during monsoon season.

The NDMA was first assigned by Prime Minister Imran Khan to start emergency sanitation work in Karachi after a heavy spell of monsoon rain late last month as afterwards it was mandated by Supreme Court of Pakistan to continue with its drive to clean drains of the city. The CM, however, said that the city again faced emergency situation on the present day after heavy spell of rain a few days after the NDMA cleaned storm water drains of the city.

He said that areas of the city, which had been most affected after the latest rainfall, were mostly situated along side one of the main drains of Karachi in its District Central whose de-silting was carried out by the NDMA a few days back.

“Just three days back, some of the federal ministers did a lot of trumpeting that sanitation work has been completed in Karachi in just four days, which could not be undertaken by the Sindh government in last 12 years,” said the CM while referring to the NDMA’s sanitation work in Karachi. “Now rainfall again takes place in Karachi just after four days and you now see again situation of the city,” he said. The CM said that the main issue concerning draining of rainwater was municipal waste continuously being thrown into the storm water drains and also the illegal constructions carried out over last many years on the drains. 

He said that a proper World Bank-assisted project was being implemented in Karachi to resolve such serious drainage and sanitation issues of the city on a permanent basis.

He said that the Sindh government had been doing the complete overhaul and revamp of 38 major drains of Karachi to save them from encroachments and municipal waste generated in the city.

The CM said that he along with his cabinet colleagues would continuously do monitoring of the drainage work in the city after heavy rain. “We are with the citizens of Karachi as we will not be merely seen appearing on the television to do commentary on the situation,” he said.He said that nowhere else in the country the CM and his cabinet colleagues were seen visiting areas of any city after heavy rainfall.

The CM said that neither the federal government nor his own government could arrange the investment required to upgrade civic infrastructure of Karachi as for the purpose help of the international agencies had been sought.

The NDMA will continue to do its sanitation work in Karachi as part of the accord recently reached between three main political parties of Karachi namely the PPP, the MQM, and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf to jointly work for development of the city. The PPP leaders have clarified that entering into such an accord doesn’t mean that it will withdraw from its constitutional authority to manage affairs of Karachi in accordance with electoral mandate given to the party by people of Sindh.

While chairing a top-level meeting of his party the other day, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that the Peoples Party as being the ruling party of the province would not make any compromise on the authority vested in the party on the basis of mandate given by the people of Sindh.