Sunday November 28, 2021

Despite political diversity, distribution of rations relatively better in Malir, Korangi and South districts

April 27, 2020

The distribution of rations among needy families under the Sindh government’s Corona Emergency Ration Package programme seemed relatively better coordinated in the Malir, Korangi and South districts of Karachi when compared to the other three districts of the city.

In its April 20 report, The News had observed how uncoordinated efforts of the relevant authorities and the inability of political parties to rise above political considerations had marred the distribution of rations in the East, West and Central districts.

Severe discrepancies were noted in these districts, where one political party, namely the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), has a significant majority in terms of its elected union committee (UC) chairmen.

It was expected that the distribution of rations would be more complicated in these districts because a large number of their elected UC chairmen are backed by political parties.

Seven-member committees have been constituted at each UC or ward level by the Sindh Services, General Administration & Coordination Department for the identification of needy families in the respective UCs or wards, which are being headed by the deputy commissioners (DCs) of the six districts.

If there’s one district that has performed the worst as far as the ration distribution programme is concerned, it’s District Central, where 50 of the total 51 UCs belong to the MQM-P.

The party’s elected chairmen claimed the DC office isn’t coordinating with them and each member of the ration committee has been turning in lists of needy families in isolation, raising serious concerns over the distribution process as well.

District Central DC Farhan Ghani, however, denied all these allegations and blamed the complicated political dynamics of the district for being a major hurdle. Similar issues were observed in District West, and to a lesser extent, in District East.

The emergency ration programme was announced by the Sindh government to help needy families during the current lockdown against local transmission of COVID-19. In the first phase of the relief programme, Rs580 million was released, with Rs20 million allocated for each district of the province.

In the second phase, Rs167.6 million was released for Karachi Division, which is divided into six districts. The money, however, was not distributed equally, as districts with a higher number of underprivileged people received more funds.

District South

Politically, District South seemed to be one of the most complicated districts of the city, as other than the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), it has UC chairmen from the MQM-P, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). The district has 31 UCs: 16 in Saddar zone and 15 in Lyari zone.

The PPP’s Habib Hassan, chairman of Lyari Town’s UC-12, said that all the seven members on his UC’s committee turned in one list of beneficiaries with his signature on it.

He said they received 175 bags from the DC office in the first phase of the ration distribution and 200 in the second phase. As for the distribution, he said that also happened in a well-coordinated manner from door to door. However, he added, there were a few discrepancies in the initial days of the first phase but were later addressed.

Interestingly, the MQM-P’s Sultan Tajwani, chairman of Jama Cloth area’s UC-23, has no major differences with the district administration over the ration distribution. With minor reservations, the process remained okay, he said.

“The lists of the families were prepared in consultation with the vice chairman and all the four councillors and the chairman of the Zakat Committee, who is a PPP member.”

However, due to a limited number of ration bags, Tajwani faced difficulties. “In the first phase we distributed 200 bags, of which 30 were allocated to the minorities,” he said, adding that they distributed 150 bags in the second phase.

South DC Irshad Ali Sodhar said they have already completed two phases of the ration distribution and are ready for the third phase as well.

As for the distribution process, he said they go door to door after 12am and keep at least two members of the seven-member committee involved in each UC. “On average, we have distributed 350 bags in each UC.”

District Malir

Malir is the largest district in terms of land. It has 32 UCs, and of the 38 union councils in the rural areas of the city, 32 are in Malir.

Although the PPP has the highest number of elected chairmen in the district, there are a few from the MQM-P, the PML-N, the Awami National Party and the JI.

UC-9 Chairman Nazar Muhammad won the local government elections in 2015 as an independent candidate and later joined the PPP. He has Naik Muhammad Goth, Subra Goth and at least eight other small villages under his UC.

He said that all the seven members of the ration committee compiled one list of 1,674 needy families after proper scrutiny and coordination. They received 160 ration bags in the first phase and 180 in the second.

But the PML-N’s Muhammad Feroz, chairman of Majid Colony’s UC-4, lamented the quality and quantity of the rations distributed to the needy families in his UC.

As for coordination, he said they were all involved in the formation and distribution process. District Malir DC Shahzad Abbasi, however, did not respond to repeated phone calls made by The News.

District Korangi

Korangi has 37 UCs, of which 33 have chairmen from the MQM-P while the others from the PTI and the PML-N. “The list of needy families was not accepted by the DC office without the sign of the UC chairman,” said the MQM-P’s Syed Muhammad Rashid, UC-14 chairman.

He said that in the seven-member committee of his UC, there were members from the PTI and the PPP, but they all worked in good coordination for the identification of needy families.

“We submitted a list of over 2,500 families, and got bags for 100 families in the first phase and for 750 in the second,” he said, adding that even the distribution took place with the coordination of the seven-member committee.

The PML-N’s Asad Hussain, UC-2 chairman, pointed out that the committee members belonging to the PTI and the PPP turned in their lists to him, and after compiling the final list, he submitted it to the DC.

“We’re also involved during the distribution process, as the elected chairman or councillor phones the beneficiary to collect ration from the designated point,” he said. District Korangi DC Shehryar Gul Memon, however, did not respond to repeated phone calls made by The News.