KARACHI - Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said that the Federal government had demonstrated a lukewarm attitude towards the rain-affected people of the province and none of their ministers had bothered to visit the areas and support the people who were in pain and agony.
“Top of it the Federal government against a share of Rs126 billion of provincial government has so far provided only Rs70 billion which shows a shortfall of Rs56 billion, therefore we are facing another problem to spend money in the rain affected areas with open hand.” This he said on Thursday while addressing a press conference here at the CM House. He was flanked by provincial ministers, Makhdoom Mahboob, Saeed Ghani, Nasir Shah, Faraz Dero and Law Minister Murtaza Wahab. The Chief Minister in his press conference spoke on certain issues such as destruction caused by heavy rains, failure of 50-year old sewerage system of Karachi and encroachments on nullas, dangerous buildings, reopening of schools and replied to the question of the newsmen. Heavy Rains: The Chief Minister said that the heavy downpour in August was unprecedented and caused huge destruction in Karachi, Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas divisions.
He said that he avoided doing anything political because it had become a question of protection of peoples’ life and their property. “I have personally seen buildings have been constructed along the storm water drains,” he said and added the builder was given leases and now those people were trying to be the owners of the city.’
Giving an example of Rashid Minhas road where shops have been constructed on both the embankments of the nullas. In North Nazimabad and Hyderi there were 2000 square yards bungalows but now in place bungalows high rises had been constructed but nobody was asking the people who had allowed the mess.
The CM said that the 50-year old sewerage system was not enough to carry heavy rain water, therefore restoration of natural drains, removal of encroachments along the nullas and enhancing the capacity of existing sewerage system were inevitable. “We are at the planning stage to construct sewerage system of Kharadar, KDA Chowrangi, Surjani Town, particularly of Yousif Goth, and in the rural areas of Malir,” he said and added the sewerage system of Kharadar had almost completed its logical life and had serious capacity issues now it had to be reconstructed and the sewerage system which had been blocked with the construction of Green Line infrastructure in district Central would also be redesigned. As far as the sewerage system of Surjani Town and Malir areas was concerned it would be with new planning and afresh, he said.
Mr Shah said that the heavy rains had also damaged road infrastructure, therefore patching work had been started in the city.
Talking about dangerous buildings collapsing one after another, the Chief Minister said that he had given the task to Minister Local Government Syed Nasir Shah to act against illegal buildings and vacate the old ones to the life and property of people.
Heavy rains in rural areas: The Chief Minister said that the 20 districts of the province were lashed by heavy rains, therefore they [20 districts] were declared calamity-hit areas. He added that 136 people died, 86 injured, 15233 villages inundated, 2,488,616 people badly affected, 1,094,150 acres land of standing cash cropped washed away, 77343 katcha and pacca houses damaged completely and 137178 houses damaged partially and 45961 cattle perished. ‘This is not a serious situation, our people are in pain and agony,” he said and added the Federal government should have extended its helping hand but except lip service they have done nothing. “I am sorry to say the media like the Federal government has adopted lukewarm attitude towards the agony of the people of rain affected areas living under the open skies,” he said and added “we are not requesting you to show us on your channel but requesting you to at least show the plight of the people so that the donor agencies come over to help them.” Mr Shah said that over Rs67 billion were required to rehabilitate the affected people so that they could return to normal life.
“The reconstruction and repair of damaged infrastructure, including roads, school and hospital buildings would be separate task,” he said and added that the provincial government had meagre resources and it could not spare a huge amount of Rs 67 billion to rehabilitate the people, therefore govt had given a commercial on print and electronic media to urge the philanthropists to support the affected people.
The CM said that the Federal government during the current financial year was supposed to transfer Rs126 billion as Sindh government share but it had provided only 70 billion which showed a shortfall of Rs56 billion. “This is another handicap to spare funds to utilize them in the rain affected areas,” he said.
Murad Ali Shah said that he had apprised the Prime Minister during his visit to Karachi about the situation in the rain affected areas. “After our meeting, I have written him two letters and once he talked with me on the phone but nothing has given us for the support and relief of the affected people,” he lamented. He recalled that during the floods of 2010 and 2011 the Federal government had supported the provincial government generously because in those days there was a PPP government in the center and this was the difference he said and added the Federal government had not supported rain affected people in other areas of the country.
Mr Shah said that the provincial government could not announce a package for the rain-affected people but it was the federal government which has the capacity to give such a comprehensive economic package to rehabilitate the poor people of the inundated areas.
The CM thanked NDMA, NGOs, UN, UNICEF, WFP and other philanthropists for supporting the affected people. He added that in the rain-hit area 75 tents had been distributed but still 39772 were required. Similarly, 124030 ration bags had been distributed and still 104,600 were required. He added that there was a demand of 315,000 mosquito nets against which 151,200 had been provided and still there was a gap of 102,222. “We have distributed 2200 kitchen sets but still 11702 are needed,” he said. Mr Shah said that 38500 animal mosquito nets were also required.
Talking about the destruction of standing crops, Murad Ali Shah said that cotton, chili, bajra and rice had been washed away. “I think we may not be able to meet the cotton and other crops production during this kharif season,” he said and added the Federal government should review its targets and come over to support the growers by declaring an agricultural emergency.
He said that 70 percent areas under rain water had been cleared through clearing choking points. Now the remaining 30 percent area would be cleared by pumping out water.
Schools reopening: The Chief Minister said that the schools would resume their session from September 28. “I have given clear instructions to the minister education to ensure implementation of proper SOPs in all the public private schools,” he said and warned against non-implementation of the SOP.
Murad Ali Shah said that his government had conducted COVID-19 tests in 39756 public and private schools, of which 185 were detected as positive. “This is serious and we all have to be careful in handling our children,” he said.
He urged people of the province for God sake wear masks, wash hands frequently, avoid hand shake and gathering.
Question, answers: Replying to a question, the Chief Minister said that the Federal government was trying to dissolve the provincial government from the very first day. “I don’t want to talk about politics because it [politics] would be going on but this time I am addressing the media for the support of rain-affected people,” he said.
To another question about launching of projects at Bandal and other islands, Murad Ali Shah said that no development on the islands would be allowed without the consent of the local people. “This is the final stance of his government,” he said.
Replying to a question, the Chief Minister requested the Supreme Court to provide funds it had received from M/s Bahria Town for development projects of the province. “We will prepare projects and will show the supreme court of Pakistan with the request to finance them from the amount it has received from M/s Bahria Town,” he said.
To a question about LBOD, the Chief Minister said that no doubt it had design defects but actually it was constructed to drain out crops waste water from agricultural lands located on the left bank of the River Indus. “Now, apart from draining out agricultural waste water, it was being used as a storm water drain, therefore it was developing breaches,” he said. “We will request the Federal government to redesign the projects which would cost around Rs 55 billion,” he said.
Replying to a question about carving out a province from Sindh, the Chief Minister said that whenever anybody would try to divide Sindh everyone, including the media would standby with him. At this a large number of media men stood up to show him their support. “This is a political point scoring attempt and I am sure they would fail completely,” he said and concluded that the people of Karachi had already rejected the politics of hatred.