KARACHI: While Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah conceded on Sunday that the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) lacked resources, major opposition parties criticised the Sindh government for not empowering the local government set-up and concentrating all powers at the provincial level.
CM Shah, Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar, who is also a senior leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, leader of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly Firdous Shamim Naqvi of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Pak Sarzameen Party chairman Syed Mustafa Kamal and Jamaat-i-Islami leader Hafiz Naeem ur Rehman with CM Shah participated in Geo News channel’s special transmission on Karachi.
While the CM defended his decision to create a seventh district in Karachi, the PSP and JI leaders opposed the creation of more districts and slammed the PPP for creating Keamari district just for its political gain.
Mayor Akhtar, Hafiz Naeem, Mr Kamal and Mr Naqvi expressed concerns over the accumulation of all powers by the Sindh government and observed that this would not help in resolving problems of Karachi.ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER AD
$10bn needed for Karachi: Murad
The CM said that at least $10 billion was required to modernise Karachi infrastructure but neither the federal government nor the provincial government had this kind of money.
He said he acknowledged that the KMC was short of funds. He said only Rs1.5bn was collected through property taxes in Karachi as opposed to Rs55bn in Mumbai in the same category.
“Garbage collection is a major problem in Karachi,” CM Shah said, adding that the city’s issues were not new as they had been here for some time.
CM Shah, Karachi mayor among participants in news channel’s special transmission
Speaking about the recently formed centre-Sindh coordination committee, he said it comprised federal and provincial ministers. “Such committees have been set up in the past as well. It will not bring administrative matters under discussions and not interfere in the administrative matters.”
About creating Keamari district, the CM said a discussion to make Keamari a district was going on for quite some time. “There is no issue in creating new districts in Karachi. We have reservations that the highest-earning districts have ended up on one side.”
Talking about the damage caused by rains to city’s infrastructure, he said his government worked a lot on cleaning storm-water drains in the city during the past four years. “In recent times, the responsibility to clean the drains lies with the KMC and the Sindh government has given fund to it,” he said.
“The problem is due to a major structure which has blocked all drains in Karachi which are the responsibility of the cantonments and district municipal corporations (DMCs).”
The chief minister said he had met National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) chairman Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal a few days ago. “The Supreme Court had ordered the NDMA to clear all the nullahs. When it rained, the Gujjar nullah overflowed once again,” he noted.
“Karachi was not like this [in the past] but then unplanned commercial construction occurred in the city,” said the chief minister, whose party has been ruling the province for the past 12 consecutive years. “Commercialising residential areas creates problems. It is not okay to expect that problems would be resolved by transforming residential areas into business zones.”
Mayor demands empowered LGs
Mayor Wasim Akhtar said the city did not fall under the domain of one man and issues stemmed from the fact that the powers were not with one person.
“Till the local governments are not given power, nothing can be done,” he said.
Responding to CM’s claim that the KMC was responsible for storm-water drain’s cleaning, he said: “Cleaning drains is my responsibility but I only did so until I had the resources.”
However, the drains would not be cleaned until the DMCs had funds and resources.
He said had Article 148 of the Constitution been imposed, the city would not have been facing these issues.
**City needs master plan: Naqvi
Leader of the Opposition Naqvi said everyone had been hearing for long that there would be a master plan for Karachi.
Criticising the PPP government for not making the city’s master plan in its 12-year rule, he said that the master plan should be prepared in proportion to the population growth of the metropolis.
Talking about the coordination committee, the PTI leader said its mandate was “for specific projects only”.
Create towns to decentralise Karachi: Kamal
PSP chairman Kamal opposed multiple districts in Karachi and said that the city should remain one district.
“If Karachi is to be decentralised, then create towns,” he suggested.
He said that all powers and resources had been parked in the CM House and there was a need to devolve powers at the grassroots level.
JI slams ‘division of Karachi’
JI Karachi chief Hafiz Naeem slammed the “division of Karachi” and said that the PPP was creating more districts for political purposes.
He said that the Sindh government destroyed the K-IV water project. “The sewerage system in Karachi is the worst and the transport system bad,” he said.
“Karachi should be empowered. Its local bodies should be empowered. It should get the status it deserves,” he said, demanding that the government immediately hold LG elections.
Wahab says no accountability in LGs
Sindh government’s spokesperson Barrister Murtaza Wahab said there was no system of accountability in the local government.
“We don’t mind local government being empowered. A lot of people were hired in the local government in the past and those appointees are nowhere to be found today,” he said.
He said the lack of resources in the KMC was due to the large number of recruitments in the past.
ANP demands special package
“Karachi has no heir but there are too many who lay claim to it,” said Awami National Party leader Shahi Syed. “Karachi is the city that runs the whole country, it feeds the entire nation.
“Let’s pay attention to Karachi. It should be given a special package,” he said.
He said whatever was in the interest of the people should be done, whether it be the formation of new districts or the creation of a separate province.