The chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Lt. Gen. Mohammad Afzal, said on Sunday that work on cleaning up Karachi’s main storm sewers would start from tomorrow (Monday).
“The main objective behind this is to prevent further damage during the next periods of monsoon,” he said at a press conference in Islamabad.
Earlier in the week, Prime Minister Imran Khan ordered the NDMA chairman to visit Karachi and start cleaning up the city. The Prime Minister signed a summary authorizing NDMA and the Frontier Works Organization (FWO) to lead a cleanliness campaign in Karachi with unlimited funds and the long-term role of federal and military organizations.
The president, speaking to the media after his visit, said “disaster mitigation” measures would be implemented so that the city’s residents could be relieved during the next rains.
He said three episodes were forecast in the metropolis during August with varying chances of rain. The first is August 7 to August 10, the second is August 15, and the third is August 24 to August 26.
“At least 80mm of rain has been recorded in one hour in parts of Karachi over the past few days. And in some areas, the amount of rain that fell in the span of an hour or two completely submerged the [drainage] system that is already functioning well beyond its capacity. “
He added that the Pakistan Armys V Corps had been called up under the Disaster Management Act and that the city’s drain cleaning work would be carried out in two phases.
“In August and the first days of September, we try to minimize the damage that has already been done. But Karachi’s problems cannot and will not be solved by this. For that we have to understand the problems of the city. “
For example, the metropolis produces 20,000 tonnes of solid waste daily, of which only 3,000 to 4,000 are collected because they are “useful”, he said. “All over the world, solid waste is seen as a source of income, but for us it is a nuisance.”
He said encroachments had arisen on the city’s sewers, adding that another important aspect of the problems facing the city was the fact that the stormwater and sewer drainage system was not separate.
“Even though the sewage system is separate in some areas […] you can’t put this water in the [drainage system] without processing it. If you do not treat the sewer, heavy sediment will start to settle and this system [collapse] in two to three years. “
Until these things are corrected, long-term planning cannot take place, he said.
“In the second phase, all stakeholders will have to be involved to create a consensus. In my opinion, if a consensus is created in three to four months […] work can begin on a permanent solution. “
He reaffirmed that for long-term planning, all stakeholders should sit down and chart a course forward. We will have to move forward, otherwise we will be back to square one, he said.
Karachi has received heavy rains in recent weeks, wreaking havoc on the city’s fragile infrastructure and leading to the deaths of several residents.
On Friday, the government of Sindh, Pakistan Armys V Corps and NDMA had decided to give the FWO the task of removing sludge from three storm sewers in the city.
The FWO will clean the storm sewers in Sharea Faisal, on both sides, as well as adjacent choke points (such as FTC, Nursery, Gulshan-i-Zafar, Tipu Sultan Road, Karsaz, Drigh Road, Stargate). The sludge will be removed and dumped directly into the Jam Chakro and TP-1 landfills.
It was also decided that the provincial government, with support from the military and NDMA, would remove encroachments on all storm sewers in the city. The local government department, with support from the military and Rangers, will remove encroachments on sewer embankments so that rainwater can be drained away.
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