Acting on Supreme Court (SC) orders, Mayor Wasim Akhtar directed the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) on Wednesday to clean storm water drains and nullahs within 30 days in light of monsoon rains predicted by the Met department.
He said the cleaning process would begin after Eid-ul-Fitr, adding that a total of 38 nullahs would be cleaned. Addressing an emergency press conference held at his office in the KMC building, Akhtar mentioned that appropriate measures had been taken such as the clearing of underpasses and the dewatering of nullahs, while motor pumps had also been arranged.
He added that the KMC would only desilt Gujjar and Mehmoodabad nullahs, and the responsibility for further work came under the Karachi Development Authority (KDA). The mayor said a war footing stance had been taken to resolve this issue, and all KMC departments were on board.
He noted that a request was sent to the Sindh government to grant Rs 730million, but only Rs500million was approved to clean the nullahs. He added that a chain of command should be established to undertake the cleaning process that would include police, Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB), KDA, Sindh Building Control Authority and Defence Housing Authority (DHA).
“The nullahs are under the six district municipal corporations, while the Sindh Public Regulatory Authority has also been taken on board,” Akhtar said, adding that a contingency plan had been chalked out as well.
The mayor said that the municipal services’ chief engineers would supervise the work round the clock, and the KMC complaint centre would address queries at 1339. Responding to a question regarding encroachments, he said they posed the biggest obstacle to cleaning nullahs; therefore, the district administration, police, Rangers and city wardens had been taken on board to remove them.
Akhtar noted that the chief justice was also concerned about the issue and ordered that proper implementation of directives in this regard be ensured. He said based on the court’s orders, utility services such as PTCL, K-Electric and KWSB had been also taken on board.
He said that the most important role would be played by the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board (SSWMB) by ensuring that their sanitary staff did not throw garbage in the nullahs, thereby choking sewerage lines.
Akhtar demanded that a ban on the use of plastic bags should be imposed as they were the main reason behind the blockage. He added that anyone found littering in nullahs would be fined under Section 133.
He said proper water drainage and waste disposal systems should be introduced in the city, and contractors had been entrusted with dumping garbage at lifting stations to prevent the littering of nullahs.
Responding to the question as to who controlled the Malir and Lyari rivers, the mayor mentioned that they fall under the irrigation department. Upon being questioned on KMC machinery being used for an election campaign, Akhtar said no violations were taking place and the Election Commission of Pakistan’s code of conduct was strictly being followed.
He explained that an open tendering process had been initiated for the cleaning process and that encroachments on nullahs would be removed along with desilting, repairing and maintenance works.
He said that nullah-cleaning was done in the past as well but without streamlining waste disposal. “We want to do this work properly once and for all so that it does not have to be repeated every year,” he added. Akhtar said the issue of plastic bags had been raised in a court, which had called Sindh Environmental Protection Agency in this connection. He concluded that the cleaning and channelisation of Gujjar and Mehmoodabad nullahs would soon be handed over to the KMC through a notification.