The flooding in monsoon rains escalated Karachi’s crisis to the point that the army has been called in to undertake the Herculean task of cleaning its Aegean stables, otherwise referred to as its nullahs.
It rained in three spells, roughly 63mm to 86mm in less than an hour July 26 onwards. The city’s natural stormwater drains can only take up to 30mm. These drains have been clogged with garbage or buried under buildings as the city expanded. As a result, when it rains, the water just floods neighbourhoods instead of being drained into the sea.
The Sindh government, Corps V, NDMA and FWO has assigned the Frontier Works Organisation, a military engineering organization, to remove the sludge from the three major nullahs of the city: Gujjar, CBM and Korangi.
This was decided with Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah Friday.
The FWO will clean both sides of Shahra-e-Faisal’s stormwater drains along with the points where they choke such as FTC, Nursery, Gulshan-e-Zafar, Tipu Sultan Road, Karsaz, Drigh Road, Star Gate. Sludge will be dumped at the Jam Chakro landfill and Treatment Plant-1.
The government said that KMC is responsible for 38 nullahs and they were all being cleaned under the World Bank SWEEP project. Apart from the KMC, the DMCs are responsible for keeping 514 smaller nullahs clean for which the Sindh government has been giving them some money. Some nullahs in Karachi come under the cantonments and KWSB jurisdictions.
The CM said that rainwater flooded localities such as Gujjar nullah in Liaquatabad. Sher Shah Suri Road flooded as pillars of the Green Line rapid bus transit project been constructed inside the nullah. Kashmir Colony at the tail-end of Orangi nullah was also flooded.
In Gulistan-i-Jauhar, encroachments and a lack of de-silting was responsible for flooding. A private educational institution has encroached on the nullah in Gulistan-e-Jauhar which is why it could not be cleaned.
Encroachments are the main reason for flooding in Gulshan-i-Zafar adjacent to PECHS and Zaman Town, Korangi. On July 17, it rained more than 63mm within an hour at PAF Faisal Base Station, choking PECHS and Shahrah-e-Faisal for a few hours at Roomi Mosque. Zaman Town was flooded two feet due to encroachments. The Soldier Bazaar nullah at Police Lines was choked as the drain was deliberately clogged with heavy stones.
On July 27, unprecedented downpour of 74mm within an hour led to hill torrents that inundated Orangi and Gujjar nullah. Green Line structures blocked drainage flowing into Gujjar nullah so water accumulated at KDA Chowrangi, Sakhi Hassan and Nagan Chowrangi.
Murad Ali Shah said that under the World Bank SWEEP scheme in the CLICK project, the nullah cleaning has been undertaken. The Sindh government has invested $8m which will be retro-effectively reimbursed by the WB. The Sindh government has released Rs200 million as a stop-gap arrangement to clean the nullahs, the CM said.
Local Government Minister Syed Nsir Shah, Law Advisor Murtaza Wahab, Corps Commander Karachi Lt. General Humayun Aziz and NDMA Chairman Lt Gen. Mohammad Afzal attended the meeting.