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August 5, 2019

15,000 volunteers needed to clean up Karachi, says Zaidi


August 5, 2019

The federal government-sponsored campaign to clean up Karachi kicked off formally on Sunday, with the target to remove silt from all storm water drains before Eidul Azha and the next monsoon rainfall.

Addressing the media at the launch of the clean-up drive at the Karachi Port Trust (KPT), Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi said that they need 15,000 volunteers to participate in the campaign.

Zaidi said that many stakeholders — including MPAs, MNAs, elected representatives of the local government, the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) and the National Logistics Cell (NLC) — are helping them in this drive.

After the recent deadly rainfall in the city, the federal minister had said in his tweet that “with the help of the citizens of this great city, we will clean up Karachi from trash in the next 2 weeks”.

His tweet and the subsequent campaign came after Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar wrote to him on July 30 regarding the state of emergency due to the torrential rains in the city.

Zaidi thanked the Pakistan Army for deploying the FWO and the NLC for this campaign. He also thanked the mayor for his support, saying that Akhtar and his Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) have to clean the city and they will receive all the support.

He said on Sunday that 15,000 volunteers should be registered and divided into district-wise teams led by the MNAs, MPA and members of the local bodies to work in two phases. “We will clean the drains and move the trash along the sides so that when the next rain comes, it doesn’t gather again inside the drains.”

The minister said that dumpers and trucks will be parked at different locations across the city, and requested the people to collect garbage from their small and narrow streets and bring them to the closest dumpers so they can be carried off to the landfill sites.

He said that they want to get this city and its drains cleaned of garbage. He asked the Sindh government to “send fewer funds to Dubai once the city is cleaned and maintain the cleanliness achieved”.

Until late in the night, the FWO and the local bodies identified the choking points and they will give their detailed plan for the clean-up on the map. Zaidi said that 50 per cent to 60 per cent of Karachi’s population lives in unplanned settlements because no town planning has been carried out for the city in the past seven decades.

He claimed that half of the KPT’s and the Pakistan Railways’ lands have been encroached on, saying that never in the history of this city a low-income housing plan has existed. In the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme the federal government will provide concrete houses to such unplanned settlements, he added.

He said that the city’s different woes cannot be resolved until the menace of unplanned growth is tackled. “Millions of people live in these settlements and their sewage goes directly into these natural storm water drains and into the sea.”

Beyond politics

Mayor Akhtar requested that the clean-up drive be carried out beyond politics. He said that in the past decade Karachi has been badly damaged, adding that the LG elections were held on the orders of the Supreme Court and these “so-called democratic parties” would never have let the polls take place.

“In a true democracy the third tier of the government is empowered,” he said, adding that there is no need for the next LG elections if they are to be held under the same power distribution.

He claimed that the feudal mindset wants to keep the power centralised. “For the past three years I’ve been fighting over this,” he said, adding that they have petitions pending in the SC and the Sindh High Court.

The KMC even gets funds on the directives of the SC, he lamented. He said that the only thing the corporation is left with is the storm water drains, while Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has control over the garbage.

“The entire year I cleaned the storm water drains of garbage, but that’s not the solution because after a week garbage comes back inside the drains,” he said, adding that before the recent rainfall he had cleaned up all the drains and so they did not overflow during the rain.

The mayor said that to clean these drains the Sindh government had released funds partially. He said that when the KMC got fed up, they wrote to Zaidi to inform him that he has two ports of Karachi under his ministry and that they also use the city’s streets so they should help them.

He said that the city generates Rs300 billion of revenue in the form of taxes. “Does it go to Larkana or Sehwan? Both [the cities] have been transformed into relics. Where does this money go?”

Akhtar said that his KMC begs the provincial administration for money and then their ministers come on TV and ask for details of the corporation’s expenditures. “The entire country is asking for the details of your expenditures,” he said, asking what the Sindh government did with Larkana’s Rs90 billion.

“I am fed up,” he said, adding that Prime Minister Imran Khan and Zaidi were kind enough to intervene. The mayor lamented how the children of this city, which is responsible for making the budget of Islamabad, play amid garbage in the absence of parks.

He said that he had also requested real estate tycoon Malik Riaz to help out, adding that Riaz had agreed to take responsibility of the entire district of Korangi for the clean-up campaign.

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