Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday flew into the metropolis where a blistering heatwave claimed over 1,200 lives and promised that an inquiry will be initiated to determine who were responsible for aggravating the situation.
“It is unprecedented in the history of Pakistan and all departments that shirked their responsibilities and added to the public misery will be held accountable in a transparent manner,” he said while presiding over a meeting with provincial and federal government officials at Sindh Chief Minister House.
Premier Nawaz expressed grief and sorrow over the loss of lives and said the whole country sympathised with the affected families in this hour of grief.
According to some reports, the prime minister also constituted an inquiry committee under Minister for State and Frontier Region Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch, Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. However, there was no official confirmation of this news.
Earlier, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah briefed the premier about his administration’s efforts to deal with the situation and the relief and remedial measures taken.
More than 65,000 patients of heatstroke were reported in Karachi’s hospitals and about 1,250 of them lost their lives, Shah said and claimed that the crisis due to excessive heat intensified due to frequent, long-hour power outages in the city.
“Despite our repeated contacts, the K-electric management turned a deaf ear to the provincial government plea for resolving the power crisis,” he told the PM.
He said the provincial government was putting in all-out efforts to deal with the upcoming monsoon season as predicted by the Met Department. “No one informed us about this weather change and the imminent heatwave,” Shah said.
According to official sources, the prime minister asked the chief minister to establish a strong coordination mechanism between provincial and federal government departments dealing with the electricity crisis. He also directed national and provincial disaster management authorities to learn a lesson from the current pattern of climate change and work out a comprehensive plan to cope with the effects of such heatwaves in future.
Karachi’s mega projects
Discussing the development projects for the metropolitan city, the prime minister ordered formation of a monitoring committee, comprising federal and provincial government officials, to oversee the federal government-funded projects in the city.
The committee will submit its monthly progress report to the premier. Earlier, briefing the premier on the K-IV project for provision of water to Karachi, Chief Secretary Siddique Memon said the project was planned to be completed in three phases, with the first phase due to be completed by 2018.
The prime minister asked CM Shah not to wait for 2018 and get the first phase completed within two years. “Shah Sahib [CM] I will give you funds and you try to arrange funds at your end and let us complete it within two years,” he said. He also assured the chief minister that he would arrange Rs10 billion for the project so that it could be completed in time.
Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT) Green Line project chief Taha Farooqi also gave a briefing to the prime minister and said the BRT was a gift from the prime minister to the people of Karachi. “It is Rs16 billion project and its topographical survey, inception report, preliminary alignment, soil investigation and environmental impact assessment (EIA) have been completed,” he said.
He told the chief minister that he had released Rs8 billion for the project, which is about 50 per cent of the total cost.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2015.