Sunday December 03, 2023

LG polls in 9 Sindh districts put off due to rains, floods

A final decision about the LG polls in Karachi would be made today

August 24, 2022
Rain effected people passing through accumulated rain water as new heavy spell of monsoon hits the city at Jinah Colony Latifabad. —APP/ Akram Ali
Rain effected people passing through accumulated rain water as new heavy spell of monsoon hits the city at Jinah Colony Latifabad. —APP/ Akram Ali 

KARACHI: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has postponed the second phase of Local Government elections in nine districts, including six districts of the Hyderabad electoral region and three districts of Badin region.

In the latest statement issued Tuesday night, the ECP said that the decision was taken after taking into consideration the worst destruction, losses, displacement of people due to the recent floods, recommendations of the Provincial Election Commissioner, Sindh, and reports received from the district administration and meteorological department.

The ECP has also reconvened a meeting today (August 24) to review the points raised by the Sindh government about the conduct of the LG polls in the Karachi Division. A final decision about the LG polls in Karachi would be made after reviewing the odds and meteorological reports today.

Earlier, rejecting the Deputy Commissioners’ (DCs) reports, the ECP on Tuesday announced that the Local Government (LG) elections scheduled for Sunday won’t be delayed anymore and the polls would be held on August 28 in the Karachi Division.

The commission, however, said that the ECP would take a decision about holding the LG polls in the Hyderabad Division, keeping in view the convenience of voters. Tuesday afternoon, the provincial election commission, after receiving letters from the Deputy Commissioners (DCs), sent recommendations to the ECP head office, advocating for conduct of elections in the Karachi Division.

However, the DCs of 16 districts where the second phase of the LG elections was scheduled on August 28 asked the provincial election commission to postpone the LG elections for the next 45 days. Only the district election commissioner of the District Central Karachi in his letter recommended that the LG elections could be conducted.

On Saturday, the Sindh Election Commissioner Ejaz Anwar Chauhan said that he has received the latest information from the meteorological department, according to which rainwater was still accumulated in various districts. The rainwater has also affected the polling stations in those areas. The provincial election commissioners asked the DCs and regional election commissioners to submit reports regarding polling stations.

According to the officials of the provincial election commission, the commission has constituted three election regions including Karachi comprising 7 districts namely District West, District East, District Malir, District Korangi, District Keamari, District Central, and District South, the Hyderabad regions includes six districts namely Hyderabad, Jamshoro, Dadu, Matiari, Tando Allahyar, and Tando Muhammad Khan while the Badin region is inclusive of Badin Sujawal, Thatta.

The DCs in their separate letters wrote to the provincial election commission that the current situation is inappropriate for the conduct of local body elections. The polling stations are underwater especially in flooded areas while the electricity breakdown would create difficulties for the polling staff to carry out vote counting after the polling time. Likewise, access to the polling stations would not be possible due to bumpy roads, rainwater accumulation, and unexpected rains.

The DC Jamshoro Capt (R) Farid-ud-din Mustafa in his letter stated that District Jamshoro like other parts of the interior Sindh is witnessing heavy rainfall and flash floods since July 5. This has led to an unprecedented situation where most of the areas of the district are inundated in water. “The report has been sought from all returning officers.”

The rest of the DCs also submitted the same reports to the provincial commissioners. The DC Malir Karachi in his letter stated that the “ongoing monsoon spell has played havoc in the District Malir Karachi as it did to other districts in the province. Despite, the district administration and line department have endeavored with maximum capability and resources to meet the challenge of natural disaster.”

“In spite of the fact that the district administration is exerting all efforts to clear those areas enabling the authorities to hold smooth the second phase Local Government elections, however, it seems a bit unpredictable to commit or guarantee at the current stage as to whether the polling would be feasible or not in certain areas of Gadap bordering with Balochistan where roads network is complexly damaged.”

Sindh urges ECP to reconsider polling date for second phase of LG polls Meanwhile, the Sindh government has urged the ECP to reconsider the date of August 28, 2022 for holding the polling for the second phase of local government elections in the province as the administrative and security set-ups aren’t available to ensure smooth conduct of the polls.

A letter to this effect was sent by the Services, General Administration, Coordination Department of the Sindh government on Tuesday to the Provincial Election Commissioner in Sindh.

The letter mentioned that the administrative and security apparatus in the province had been preoccupied with the rescue and relief activities elsewhere in the province after heavy monsoon rains. It said that it was not feasible to readily make available the administrative machinery and law-enforcement set-up of the province for conducting the second phase of local government polls in Sindh.

The letter mentioned that the administrative and law-enforcement machinery of the province has been engaged in rescue and relief operations in the affected districts. “The security of the elections in Hyderabad and Karachi regions warrants the deployment of security personnel from other districts and regions which are already struggling to keep up law and order situation and provide relief to the affected people,” it said.

“Under the circumstances, re-directing the machinery for conducting the second phase of local government elections as well as ensuring proper arrangements and accessibility to the polling stations may result in further deteriorating the situation of the calamity in the affected areas,” it said.

“The situation was confirmed by commissioners in Karachi and Hyderabad divisions and Inspector General of Police stating that the provincial machinery, including district administration, police, health, local government, education, and other departments are engaged in the provision of rescue and relief operations.

“Inspector General of Police has also opined that given the current state of affairs, it will be difficult to retrieve police personnel from the affected districts to beef up the security of the polling stations in Hyderabad and Karachi.

“In view of the above, it will be administratively extremely difficult to hold the second phase of local government elections on the given date of August 28,” it added. It urged the ECP to revise the date of the second phase of municipal polls in Sindh to hold the elections on a date when the administrative and law-enforcement machinery would be fully available for the purpose.