NDMA begins massive drive to clean-up Karachi

-Chairman stresses on need to prepare a long term plan

From Zeeshan Mirza

KARACHI: The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Monday started work on cleaning major storm-water drains in the port city. The decision to begin the cleanliness drive was announced by the authority’s chairman Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal in a press conference held in Islamabad on Sunday. “The main objective behind this is to prevent further damage during the next few monsoon spells,” he had told the presser.
The development comes days after Prime Minister Imran Khan directed Gen Afzal to visit Karachi and begin cleaning up the city. The premier signed a summary authorising NDMA and the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) to carry out a cleanliness drive in Karachi with “unlimited funds” and the long-term role of the federal and military organisations. The chairman, addressing the media after his visit, said that steps for “disaster mitigation” will be carried out so that the people of the city can be provided relief during the next few spells of rainfall. He said that three spells had been predicted in the metropolis during the month of August with varying chances of rain. The first is from Aug 7 to Aug 10, the second on August 15 and the third from Aug 24 to Aug 26.
“At least 80mm of rainfall was recorded in one hour in some areas of Karachi during the past few days. And in some areas, the amount of rain that fell in a span of one or two hours completely overwhelmed the [drainage] system which is already working well beyond its capacity.” He added that Pakistan Army’s V Corps had been called in under the Disaster Management Act and the work on cleaning the city’s drains will be carried out in two phases. “During August and the first few days of September, we are looking at minimising the damage that has already been caused. But Karachi’s problems can’t and won’t be solved by this. For that, we need to understand the problems of the city.”
For example, the metropolis produces 20,000 tonnes of solid waste on a daily basis of which only 3,000 to 4,000 is picked up because it is “useful”, he said. “Across the world, solid waste is considered a source of revenue, but for us, it is a nuisance.” He stated that encroachments had popped up on the city’s drains, adding that another important aspect to troubles the city was facing was the fact that the storm-water and sewerage drainage system was not separate.
“Even if the sewerage system is separate in some areas you can’t put that water into the drainage system without treating it. If you don’t treat sewerage, heavy sediments will begin to settle and that system will collapse in two to three years.” Until these things are mended, long-term planning can’t take place, he said. “In the second phase, all stakeholders will need to be brought on board to create consensus. In my opinion, if consensus is created in three to four months work can begin on a permanent solution.”