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July 4, 2015

Civil society decries KE, govt’s apathetic attitude


July 4, 2015

The right to electricity is not a commodity or a privilege but a fundamental right of the people to the extent that their right to be dealt with in accordance with the law (Article 4), their right to life (Article 9), and their right to dignity (Article 14) is ensured and implemented.
Failure to provide electricity to the people of Sindh to such an extent is a violation of the fundamental rights of the people of the province under the Constitution of 1973.
Thus goes the prayer in the petition filed by civil society regarding deaths caused by the recent heat wave and the resultant deaths.
Members of the civil society, at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club, explained the petition in detail on Friday and the K-Electric went in for stringent criticism over its “negligence” in the crisis.
The petition demands from the federal and the provincial government that all next-of-kin of the victims be compensated as a fundamental right.
The representative of the Urban Resource Centre, in his criticism of the government, said that the city lacked essential facilities like a circular railway, thus exposing commuters to the scorching weather.
Greenery, he said, was rapidly disappearing, making room for the high-rises and other concrete structure to line the pockets of the builders’ syndicates, as also the advertising mafia.
Karachi, one of the world’s five biggest megapolises, he said, needed big buses to mitigate the commuting problem of the masses but here Qingis were proliferating on the avenues creating pollution and totally insufficient to cater to the massive population.
Mehnaz Rehman of Aurat Foundation said that the crisis had once again shown the utterly apathetic stance of the rulers towards the masses which was reflected in the lack of planning by the central and provincial governments for contingencies. She also blamed the meteorological department for failing to warn the population of the time and

severity of the catastrophe.
She said that, most unfortunately, the department had not learnt a lesson from the 2010 countrywide floods when the nation was caught absolutely off-guard and large swathes of land were deluged by flood waters which took over two years to be rid off.
Farhat Parveen of NOW Communities said that despite the fact that the city had a number of big hospitals none were geared to coping with the kind of crisis the city just faced. K-Electric, she said, had been most apathetic to the whole crisis. There, she said, was no planning of the civic services and infrastructure and the fact that the city’s population was increasing by 10 million annually because of “lopsided national planning” and major needs were constantly being ignored.
When a questioner pointed out that a lot many of the victims were actually drug addicts who had died of their own carelessness, Karamat Ali, Director, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) said that even if that argument were to be taken, it must not be forgotten that the drugees were as much a responsibility of the government.
Why were they addicts, in the first place, he queried, and then answered his own question by saying that it was because of the apathetic policies and planning of the government which bred unmitigated poverty and socio-economic inequality forcing many into such activities to seek a respite from their problems by living in a make-believe world.
Addicts, he said, were as much a creation of our rulers’ apathy. Just to let them die, he said, was certainly no way out of the problem. It was downright, inhuman, he said. All human life, he said, was equally precious.
He said that even though they were wholly and solely the government’s responsibility, there were no homes, no shelter for senior citizens and often, they were left to fend for themselves amid a hostile world in the dying stages of their lives.

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