Aquatic Rescue | Political economics


arachi received heavy rain in July this year, flooding many areas, including the Defense Housing Authority (DHA). According to the Met office, the Masroor base observatory recorded a total of 606mm of rain in July, followed by 587mm in Gulshan-i-Hadeed and 524mm in the DHA. This was about 181% more than the average July rainfall after 1961.

Almost the entire city received heavy rain. The most affected residential areas, besides the DHA and the Old City, were Korangi, Malir, Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Gulistan-i-Jauhar, Nazimabad, Liaquatabad, Orangi, North Nazimabad and Gulshan-i-Hadeed. These areas remained submerged in rainwater for several days. Rainwater could not be drained from low-lying areas of many towns for days, causing health and hygiene problems.

The torrential rains have caused flooding in many suburban areas, including the KDA 33 project housing corporations, as a large part of these housing projects are built on natural drains that carry stormwater to the sea or rivers. Malir and Lyari. Nahar-i-Khayyam, the soldiers’ bazaar nullahthe city station nullah were also overrun with residential settlements and commercial buildings. This affected the natural flow of rainwater into the sea.

The Malir River, which carries water from other tributaries of the Kirthar foothills, flows through the Korangi industrial area and discharges its water into the sea. For several years, it has been overflowing due to blockages. Gushing water from the Malir River in July disconnected the Korangi area from the rest of the city. Its two culverts on the main roads were destroyed by the torrential flow of the Malir River. Only one crossing of the Jam Sadiq bridge remained open to head towards the Korangi industrial area.

Lyari River flows from Sohrab Goth to congested areas of Liaqatabad city, Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Garden, Golimar and Lyari. After crossing the Mauripur road, it empties into the sea. This year, water from the Lyari River has disconnected the road leading to New Lyari town and Khuda Ki Basti from Gadap town.

The rains also affected areas of the old city including the famous Bandar Road (MA Jinnah Road), Commercial Street, II Chundrigar Road and the adjoining area of ​​the Southern District, which lay under rainwater for a few days. after the rains stop. . Despite the efforts of the municipal administration, the water could not be drained due to poor infrastructure and clogging of the main storm drains.

Rainwater penetrated many homes and shopping malls in large areas, causing property damage as well as hardship for residents. The provincial government has called on people to stay home to be safe during the rains.

Main thoroughfares and underpasses remained flooded with rainwater for several hours after the heavy downpour, despite the city administration’s round-the-clock operation to drain the water. Commuters, especially motorcyclists, have been the most affected. Due to submerged traffic lanes, many two-wheelers broke down or were unable to move safely.

Storm sewers have narrowed over the years due to the construction of residential and commercial buildings on both sides of the sewers – the leading cause of flooding in many urban areas in 2020.

Unprecedented rains had also wreaked havoc in many parts of Karachi two years ago in 2020 when an emergency was declared in the city. Areas like New Nazimabad and the city of Surjani remained under water for several days and their inhabitants had to move to safer areas.

All the major storm drains in the city discharge most of the rainwater into the Lyari or Malir rivers or directly into the sea. The main drains are frequently clogged due to the garbage thrown into them. This year, the provincial government had called for precautionary measures, but the provisions proved insufficient.

Most storm sewers have narrowed over the years due to the construction of residential and commercial buildings on both sides of them. This was the leading cause of flooding in many urban areas in 2020.

After the 2020 monsoon, the federal and provincial governments made concerted efforts to clear and widen the city’s major storm drains. After protests by opposition parties in the city, Pakistan’s Central Government Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) assigned the task to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to carry out the civil works to clean up the three main stormwater drains through the border works organization. The government of Sindh has been asked to provide the necessary funds from a loan from the World Bank to carry out these activities.

three main nullahs which were originally storm sewers have for several years been used as sewers. Both sides of these drains have been encroached upon by people colluding with certain political parties and professional land grabbers who sell the land to the poor. As a result, when a government attempts to remove human settlements along the Gujjar nullahKorangi nullah and the colony of Manzoor nullahit faces a lot of resistance from locals as well as political workers.

The government has announced a compensation plan for those affected but many people say they have not received the promised amount. The provincial government had promised to provide alternative housing for displaced people, but the promise was not kept.

“Some people have received rent payments but no other houses have been offered,” says Zahid Farooque of Urban Resource Centre, an NGO. He says most people haven’t even received the rent due to a lack of documentation.

Desanding and widening of the three main storm drains are still in progress.

This year, the city’s upscale southern communities, Defense Housing Authority (DHA) and Clifton, also received heavy rains that damaged properties in several DHA phases. The company’s Phase II was the hardest hit; however, other regions were also affected. Some people have been stranded for several days due to knee-deep water around their homes.

It was the third time that the DHA drainage system failed to convey stormwater to the sea.

Implemented in 2007, DHA’s stormwater drainage system has been unable to convey all of the rainwater from its residential and commercial areas. The main traffic arteries of La Défense therefore remained submerged for several days. Some people staged protests outside the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) and DHA offices over their failure to drain water.

Efforts are made around the monsoon rains every year to drain the water. Once the rains are over, efforts for a permanent solution are halted.

The author is a senior journalist, currently working as development communication professional in Karachi

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