KARACHI: This year’s monsoon will be arriving earlier than usual, according to the Pakistan Meteorological Department. The Met department issued a rain advisory on its website, predicting heavy rain and winds in Karachi from Wednesday till Saturday.
Unsurprisingly, the city’s municipal authorities were unaware of the forecast and almost every official contacted by The Express Tribune, said they have made their usual preparations.
According to Pakistan Meteorological Department Spokesperson Abdul Rashid, they are monitoring a weather system coming towards lower Sindh from Indian Gujrat.
He added that according to their predictions, the system might bring moderate to heavy rainfall from Wednesday, which will continue till Saturday. He added that the system will bring rainfall to the lower region of Sindh, including Karachi, and the catchment area of the Hub Dam is likely to receive a good amount of rainfall. He feared that if arrangements are not up to the mark, then even moderate rainfall may cause urban flooding.
The administration of Karachi’s District South is divided between the Cantonment Board Clifton and District Municipal Corporation (DMC) South.
According to CBC Sanitary Inspector Amir Azeem, the board has made all its preparation for the monsoon, including cleaning of drainage lines and replacement of smaller and old sewerage lines.
He added that CBC does not wait for rain advisories before preparing for the rain. However, Azeem tried to pin the blame for any issues on nature, saying that while they are prepared they cannot challenge nature with their limited resources.
The DMC South chairperson said that all the small nullahs along roads have been cleaned and several choking points – at MA Jinnah Road, Memon Masjid, II Chundrigar Road and State Bank – have been taken care of.
He said there are two large nullahs in Lyari which the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) has been working to clean but the work has been left midway. He stressed the need to clean these major drains.
There is an issue of lack of machinery, including a dewatering pump, which we are going to arrange on our own, he said.
Over the years, the situation during the monsoon season has worsened in District Central due to encroachments on the Gujjar Nullah. This year, however, the district’s deputy commissioner, Captain Fariduddin Mustafa, believes that situation will improve.
They managed to demolish 14,000 houses that had been illegally constructed on the nullah since the last monsoon and only a few houses remain as their case is still pending in the court. Rs1.6 billion has been allocated for the construction of a road on both sides of the nullah in the 2017-18 budget, he explained. The situation at the Gujjar Nullah is much better now and it can sustain rainfall of more than 100 millimetres.
Capt Mustafa said there are 30 to 35 drains being cleaned and work on most of them has been completed. He explained that last year a nullah in 14/A Shadman had flooded as it had been encroached upon and there was no access for machinery. This year, however, the administration managed to clean it and has the area machine accessible.
Capt Mustafa said they held rain preparation meetings in May with the officials of DMC Central and the KMC.
According DMC Central Chairperson Rehan Hashmi, they started monsoon preparations a few months ago and, after identifying choking points, cleaned them out to maintain the flow of water. He said the nullahs at Shaharae Noor Jahan, Allama Rasheed Turabi Road and 14/A have been cleaned and the situation at the Gujjar Nullah has improved tremendously.
However, he complained that they have little machinery and to clean the nullahs they need grab cranes, which they borrow from the KMC for a few days. As a long-term solution, each DMC must have its own grab crane to clean the nullahs, he said.
Hashmi mentioned the problem of sewerage lines being choked these days due to fallen debris after anti-encroachment drives on the Gujjar Nullah, which has blocked the sewerage flow of nearby areas and can only be removed with the help of a crane.
He added that they have prepared three dewatering pumps for emergencies.
According to West Deputy Commissioner Asif Jameel, preparations are ongoing like every year. He said there are at least 70 drainage nullahs in his district that are being cleaned before the rainfall. He added that he does not see any problem if there is heavy rainfall and mentioned that the situation last year was also under control. Jameel did not know about the expected rainfall and was confident that there would be no trouble in his district during the rain.
Jan Muhammad Baloch, DMC Malir’s chairperson, said two out of 18 nullahs in Malir overflowed last year – one at Future Morr and the other in Gulshan-e-Buneer – but all of them have been cleaned to maintain the flow of water during the rain.
He added that they are prepared to deal with any calamity in the area and have alerted all their staff to be vigilant.
Whereas DMC East Chairperson Moeed Anwar believes the situation will be much better this year, as compared to last year, as they have cleaned the nullahs before the monsoon. He added that every year University Road floods, as does Tariq Road, but now, after drains have been built on both roads, things will be better.
He said last year the nullah in Mehmoodabad overflowed when it rained but it has recently been cleaned and is expected to withstand the monsoon.
Anwar said a few tenders for cleaning the nullahs are also in process and the cleaning work will continue throughout the monsoon season.
He said that since solid waste management is no longer his domain anymore, he expects their officials to be available during the rain, as teamwork is needed to resolve these issues.
KMC Senior Director Masood Alam said all 28 nullahs are being cleaned or have been cleaned. Despite their lack of resources and funds, they are alert and prepared to deal with the impending rainfall. He said the major issue is of solid waste management, as more than 8,000 ton of garbage has been dumped in the drains as it is only being collected from districts East and South. Other districts are collecting solid waste with limited resources.
Alam explained that during the rains all the clean drains are once again choked due to solid waste flowing with the water. If solid waste is collected properly this issue will be resolved, he said.
He added that he expects a better situation, as the provincial government has also built rain water drains on main thoroughfares of the city which will hopefully help with the flow of water.
Sindh Solid Waste Management Board
Sindh Solid Waste Management Board (SSWMB) Managing Director Dr AD Sajnani vowed they will work in coordination with the KMC and have been working in districts South and East. He added that the SSWMB alone should not be blamed for garbage on the roads as it will take time to take things under control.
Director of the Local Government Department’s Project Directorate Niaz Soomro said that with every new road in the city, they have constructed rain water drains. This includes University Road, Tariq Road, Hub River Road and particular choking parts of Sharae Faisal.
The Provincial Disaster Management Authority and District Korangi chairperson could not be reached for comments.