KARACHI: The City Council of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) showed rare unity over the federal government's quarters issue in the city.
In its meeting on Monday, the Council unanimously adopted a resolution demanding ownership rights for the residents of Pakistan Quarters. The resolution was moved by Jamat-e-Islami's (JI) Junaid Mukati, and supported by JI's Hanif Memon.
In 1948, according to Mukati, Quaid-e-Azam and Liaquat Ali Khan allotted these quarters to the migrants who regularly pay their rent. "It's been 70 years since they're living in these quarters now. They should be given ownership rights," he said, adding that the way the Sindh Police used tear gas shells and water bowsers at women and elderly people was shameful. "Are we from India, or were they confronting the Indian Army?" he asked.
Mukati appealed to Prime Minister Imran Khan to initiate his 0.5 million houses programme from these government quarters by giving ownership rights to its residents.
The council then approved a resolution regarding payment of Rs33.68 million for the rent of machinery obtained to clean the city's major nullahs of encroachment and garbage. Another resolution in this regard was for cleaning and channelising of 35 major nullahs under KMC.
The approval of payment was, however, severely criticised by the opposition. According to Mukati, the amount of Rs33.68m was a sheer waste of money. If these machineries were used in cleaning the nullahs, he pointed out, why isn't there any improvement in the nullahs of the city.
There's no long-term planning, according to him, in the city for cleaning of the nullahs. He also blamed the land and anti-encroachment director for allowing encroachments to take place inside the nullahs. Meanwhile, chairperson from Maripur, Saad Khan, asked the mayor to inform the council of the recent work being done at different drains of the city. "Are they being done on Built Operate Transfer (BOT) basis or were open tenders invited?" he asked. He also urged to include Budhan Goth Nala, Sher Mohammad Village Nala in those 35 nullahs of KMC, which was approved.
Responding to this, Akhtar agreed with the opposition and blamed the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board (SSWMB) for not doing its work properly. He said that every year millions of rupees are spent on cleaning work of the nullahs but nothing happens as there's no long-term solution.
"We need to come up with a solution for garbage," he said, adding that the Sindh government released Rs500 million to clean the nullahs on the directives of water commission.
Another resolution was against detaining the residents of Karachi for violating traffic laws, which was presented by Mukati and supported by Memon. According to Mukati, the dumpers and public buses openly violate the traffic laws, but no one detains them, as they have fixed extortion amount to pay to the traffic police. On the other hand, a common citizen is arrested. He said that when nowhere in Pakistan citizens are arrested for violation of traffic laws, then why in Karachi?
Other resolutions included the approval of the laboratory test fee and charges at Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, expenditures on the procurement of machinery for the removal of encroachments and announcement of proposed fee for Landhi Sports Complex.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 30th, 2018.
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