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Govt considers deepening Karachi’s Mehmoodabad Nullah instead of anti-encroachment drive

NED University team studies city's drains for a solution

SAMAA | - Posted: Nov 30, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 months ago
Posted: Nov 30, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 months ago
Govt considers deepening Karachi’s Mehmoodabad Nullah instead of anti-encroachment drive

The yellow is PTI and the blue is PPP on both sides of the Manzoor Colony nullah Map: SAMAA Digital

Houses illegally built on the Mehmoodabad Nullah in Karachi could be saved. The authorities have switched gears and are looking for solutions that don’t involve demolishing the hundreds of houses constructed on the storm water drain.

For now, the anti-encroachment operation has been stopped and the authorities are consulting experts from NED University for a solution.

Prof Adnan Qadir, the chairman of the Department of Urban & Infrastructure Engineering at NED University, is one of those experts. He told SAMAA Digital that after the recent spell of torrential monsoon rain, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah was eager for an engineering solution towards the accumulation of rain water on Karachi’s streets and roads.

An engineer himself, the CM held a meeting with the NED engineering team and tasked them with setting a storm water drainage system. The team began work in October and will complete their technical study of all of Karachi’s storm water drains, also called nullahs, by January.

What will the team do?

Prof Qadir says the NED team has completed a geometrical survey of all 40 main storm water drains in Karachi. They will now have to complete the process and modelling of the drains.

They are currently working on the Mehmoodabad Nullah and focusing on an engineering solution to the problem.

“We are going to work on increasing the depth of the Mehmoodabad Nullah to improve the flow of water on normal days as well during the monsoon season,” Prof Qadir explained.

The NED team is working on the depth of nullah as its first priority rather than expanding its width, which was the original plan.

The team is studying Karachi’s drains in three ways:

  • Why does rainwater flood onto roads and streets of Karachi during the monsoon?
  • How it happened during August’s torrential rains
  • How can the problem be solved for a long time

The NED engineering team has started its work on the Mehmoodabad Nullah and the study has three stages, said the professor. So far, they have completed the survey and processing at the Mehmoodabad Nullah and are working on modeling the nullah.

“We will do a comprehensive modeling of the Mehmoodabad Nullah through a simulation and will check the flow of water running in it,” Prof Qadir said.

A simulation is a process through which a computerised model of any study is prepared and run on on a computer. Prof Qadir said these are all the engineering solutions the NED team is working on.

The team has surveyed all routes and junctions of the Mehmoodabad Nullah in their study. The mapping of the nullah has been done using Geographic Information System.

The process of modeling of the Mehmoodabad Nullah is currently under way in which the depth, width and cross-sections of the storm water drain are being ascertained.

Prof Qadir says the process is in final stage and will be completed soon. He said their first option is to increase the capacity of the Mehmoodabad Nullah through excavation, adding that the width will be extended by a few feet, but that hasn’t been finalised yet.

The NED official said the department will provide a complete engineering solution to the Sindh government.

“This is the first time that the Sindh government has approached the NED Department of Urban and Infrastructure Engineering and the department after completing its study will submit a report to the government by January 2021,” he said.

East Additional Commissioner Arfan Mirwani told SAMAA Digital that the administration make its final decision on the anti-encroachment drive in light of the NED technical study on the Mehmoodabad Nullah.

“We have held several meetings on the issue and will chalk out a final plan after the technical study,” Mirwani added.

The KMC’s senior director of its anti-encroachment department, Bashir Siddiqui, said the authorities have tasked the East deputy commissioner with talking to all the stakeholders and taking them on board before performing any operation to remove encroachments from the Mehmoodabad Nullah.

“After consultation, illegal structures will be demolished from the Mehmoodabad Nullah,” Siddiqui added.

On November 19, the East district administration planned an anti-encroachment drive at the Mehmoodabad Nullah, but the activity was opposed by residents. They stage a protest in Kashmir Mohalla and at the Manzoor Colony Fire Station where they threw stones at the KMC staff and police.

They also entered the Manzoor Colony Fire Station by destroying its main gate and walls during the protest, which eventually resulted in the drive being postponed.

The KMC Katchi Abadi Department had stated that around 850 houses were illegally constructed on both sides of the Mehmoodabad Nullah as the owners did not have legal lease documents.

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