HYDERABAD: In a rejoinder to Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar's appeal to people to stop paying taxes, Sindh Local Government Minister Nasir Hussain Shah said the 'germs' of old Muttahida Qaumi Movement are perhaps still alive in Akhtar. "He should realise that the party has become MQM-Pakistan now," said Shah while speaking to the media after inaugurating Hyderabad region office of Association of Builders and Developers (ABAD) on Thursday night.
He said the mayor seemed to be in some different frame of mind when he gave that call for civil disobedience which otherwise does not suit his stature. He disputed the stance of MQM-P and Karachi mayor about the shortage of funds saying that the provincial government has released Rs550 million to the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) this year.
The minister said that the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board (SSWMB) is collecting and disposing of 10,000 tons of solid waste per day. According to him, the board will become operative in Karachi's district municipal corporations which are still not under the board's management. "The volume [of solid waste] is so large that it requires united efforts of all stakeholders."
Shah contended that the perception that the SSWMB was encroaching upon the domain of KMC, DMCs or HMC is a misplaced notion, underlining that the board is not encroaching rather supporting the municipal authorities. "If we [LG department] deduct funds of KMC or DMCs and transfer them to the board then one can say that encroachment is happening. But the Sindh government is spending from its own budget to fund the board."
The Hyderabad Municipal Corporation was asked to pass a resolution to transfer solid waste management to the board in November, 2018. However, the corporation has still not passed the resolution as a majority of its members are opposed to relinquishing what is hitherto their responsibility.
When asked will the Sindh government impose its decision of transferring the solid waste management to board if the HMC continued to play reluctant, Shah hinted that such a move may not be beyond the realms of possibility. "If HMC is unwilling than they should properly do the service [of solid waste disposal]. But if they can't then the government can't leave its citizens in this situation." The minister acknowledged that a lot of delay has already happened in activating SSWMB in Hyderabad, Sukkur and other big cities, assuring that the board will soon become functional in these cities.
Responding to a question about politics over garbage disposal in the province, the minister said that political opponents have time and again predicted doom for Pakistan Peoples Party's Sindh government. However, he added, the people of Sindh returned the PPP to the power for third consecutive time in 2018 general elections with a higher number of elected MPAs than 2008 and 2013 general elections. "The Sindh government isn't changing and the CM Sindh [Syed Murad Ali Shah] will stay the course till 2023."
When asked why the Sindh Building Control Authority has failed to implemented order of the former Water Commission against construction of commercial buildings on converted plots in Hyderabad, the minister tacitly stated that the commission's order was transient in nature. He informed that a separate authority for developing master plans of Sindh's cities and towns will soon be established.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 24th, 2019.