Better late than never: Storm drains to be cleared of encroachments

Experts believe removing encroachments will not achieve anything

Karachi commissioner aims to clear the city’s storm water drains of encroachments and rubbish. The work to clear this nullah in Qayummabad has already begun. PHOTO: AYSHA SALEEM/EXPRESS

KARACHI: Fear of heavy rainfall has led commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui to order the original condition of all 30 major drains in the city to be restored and has canceled the lease of all encroachments on the drains, which were issued against the master plan of the city.

According to him, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) has the right to carry out an operation against these encroachments. He urged all the departments of the city not to consider an appeal from these encroachers, as according to Supreme Court of Pakistan, illegal possessions have no legal value. “According to the law, a lease cannot be issued for area on the drains of the city,” said a KMC statement.

The drains, which have been encroached upon, include the nullahs at Soldier Bazaar, Frere, Chakwar, Golden Town, Korangi, Pachar, Shaheed-e-Millat, Khayam, Gujjar, Orangi, Zehri House, Mochko, Manzoor Colony, Kalri, City, Hub River Road, Sher Shah, 10,000 Road, Mehran Highway, Azim Pura, Pehlwan Goth, Haroonabad, Lala Abad, 12,000 Road, 7,000 Road, 5,200 Road, 9,000 Road, Songal, Mehmoodabad and Glass Tower.

Siddiqui told The Express Tribune that the drive against encroachments has been kicked off and would be in full swing after the monsoon season. “Currently we are only removing the encroachments, which are becoming obstacles to clean these drains,” he said, adding that once the monsoon ends, all encroachments on the drains will be removed.

According to him, people have obtained these leases illegally through the Karachi Development Authority (KDA), therefore, action will be taken against KDA officials as well.

He asked all the occupants to voluntarily vacate the areas before the government takes action against them. During a drain cleaning work visit on Sunday he once again warned the encroachers to let the administration work to clean and de-silt the drains. “The city’s problems cannot be solved without cleaning the storm water drains, that’s why this [the anti-encroachment drive] has been initiated to clean these drains in the larger interest of the city,” said Siddiqui.

He added that over 3,000 KMC workers are carrying out drain cleaning work, with 45 vehicles, 10 loaders and 20 dumpers being obtained on rent and a total of 150 dumpers and 50 excavators being utilised for cleaning and de-silting work at various major drains.

Experts believed, however, that merely removing encroachments will not achieve anything. NGO Shehri - Citizens for a Better Environment’s Roland deSouza told The Express Tribune that Karachi needs a strong storm drainage master plan. “Rain water in Karachi has become a very complicated issue,” he said, adding that the steps taken by the Karachi commissioner and chief minister recently should have been taken at least a month ago.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2015. 


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