Small rain, big disturbance

Even though it only poured and never actually rained it wreaked havoc in the country’s biggest and most modern city

Editorial July 31, 2019

Just about 70 millimetres of rain was enough to inundate Karachi and wash away the tall claims of the authorities about monsoon preparedness. Even though it only poured — and never actually rained — it wreaked havoc with the whole municipal infrastructure of the country’s biggest and most modern city and turned everything topsy-turvy. Roads and streets looked like rivers, with accumulating rainwater making way into homes and shops in many areas; most of the localities went out of power supply for hours and hours; traffic jams at thoroughfares ensured extremely thin attendance at workplaces and educational centres; businesses remained shut; flights got cancelled; and above all, 11 precious lives were lost in the city, though overall death toll in Sindh from rain-related incidents was 16.

The amount of rain that fell on Karachi on Monday was not so huge, but the disturbance indeed was. For perspective, the Mumbai monsoon fury of July 26, 2005 had unleashed 944 mm rainwater in a single day. Why was then the impact of a normal amount of rain in Karachi so huge? One of the chief reasons is the waste-choked rainwater drains that failed to absorb the cloudburst. While doing away with the heaps of garbage and trash that the city is dotted with is now a kind of Herculean task for our civic authorities to perform, they should have at least taken care of the rainwater drains as part of their monsoon preparations. The warning from the Met office was there, but it fell on the deaf ears, as always. And instead of preparing for the rainy day beforehand, the civic authorities were seen struggling on the day itself.

The day was a fitting photo-op for those at the helm — be it the mayor, the CM or the governor. All were hyperactive the whole day long, visiting various city parts, reviewing the measures taken and handing out instructions for redress. Had even one of them been even half as active with precautionary steps, the citizens of Karachi would have rather enjoyed the monsoon falls.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2019.

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