SHC seeks viable proposals to help Karachi avoid monsoon miseries

October 01, 2020

The Sindh High Court on Wednesday directed the relief commissioner and the local government secretary to file their comments mentioning viable proposals to combat the situation faced by Karachi...

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The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Wednesday directed the relief commissioner and the local government secretary to file their comments mentioning viable proposals to combat the situation faced by Karachi every monsoon season.

The order came on a petition seeking a judicial inquiry into the losses the people of the city suffered during the recent monsoon rains. The petitioner has also sought compensation for the affected people.

The SHC’s division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar asked the relief commissioner about the progress of post-monsoon development works as regards the sewerage system, storm water drains and dilapidated roads.

The court observed that the sewerage system of the city had been destroyed and several roads and streets were inundated with sewage. The bench asked the law officer what efforts were being made to ensure that such a situation could not emerge again.

The additional relief commissioner said that several development projects related to water & sewerage and road carpeting will be initiated and they will be completed within three to five years. He said that a road map is being made to combat such a situation in future.

The SHC directed the additional relief commissioner to show the court some working papers regarding the road map for controlling such a situation. The bench also directed the LG secretary to appear in court with some viable proposals to handle such a situation in future.

The court repeated its notices to the unserved respondents, including the land-owning agencies of the provincial and federal governments, and told them to file their comments on October 28.

Disaster zone

Nadeem A Sheikh had submitted in his petition that the disastrous spells of rain left Karachi paralysed and flooded, which was costing Pakistan approximately Rs449 million every day. He said the city had turned into a disaster zone after two days of rainfall.

Sheikh said that of the 41 people killed during the rains, at least nine were electrocuted due to the messed up power supply lines during one of the heaviest downpours Karachi had witnessed in decades, making life miserable in the mega city of over 20 million people.

He said the Sindh government had declared a monsoon flood emergency in the province and declared some areas calamity-hit. Monsoon rains do not mean devastation, but the unplanned growth of the city has reduced it to ruins, and large-scale encroachments are the primary reason of rain flooding, he added.

The petitioner said the natural storm water drains and the rivers had been encroached upon, which then disturbed settlements and led to flooding during the rains. He lamented that during the disastrous rains, various emergency telephone numbers such as the fire emergency 16, the commissioner’s helpline 1299 and the civil defence phone numbers were unreachable.

He decried that no other numbers were available in case of emergencies, while K-Electric’s complaint number was redirected to a recording that kept saying the skilled staff of KE were trying to rehabilitate the area as soon as possible.

Sheikh said the roads leading to the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases, the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre and the Kidney Centre were submerged by more than four feet of water, and in such a condition it was impossible to bring a patient to any of the hospitals.

He said the lack of any bulk drainage mechanism along the major streets was an obvious cause of the problem, adding that it was ironic that the prime corridors like II Chundrigar Road, Sharea Faisal, Shaheed-e-Millat Road, Karsaz Road, Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan Road and Shahrah-e-Pakistan as well as many other arteries had all turned into pools.

The petitioner said it was necessary for the SHC to order the relevant authorities and departments, including all the respondents, to initiate strict inquiry into the matter and submit their reports in court, following which further orders may be issued in view of the inquiries.

He said the Sindh government was liable for compensating the people affected by the recent rains according to their respective losses. He requested the court to order the provincial and local governments to compensate the affected people.

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