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Multiple jurisdictions in Karachi responsible for urban flooding: HRCP

'Anti-poor bias runs through urban planning, policymaking'

SAMAA | - Posted: Dec 20, 2020 | Last Updated: 5 months ago
Posted: Dec 20, 2020 | Last Updated: 5 months ago
Multiple jurisdictions in Karachi responsible for urban flooding: HRCP

Men use a wooden makeshift boat at a flooded area after heavy monsoon rains triggered floods in Pakistan's port city of Karachi on August 28, 2020. (AFP)

Urban flooding in Karachi is the result of a lack of a central authority in the city, a report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said Sunday.

A fact-finding report “points to the city’s peculiar political geography where various jurisdictions—local, provincial, federal and cantonment—coexist, often at cross purposes to each other. It recommends making Karachi’s land-controlling and management authorities accountable to one central authority or made autonomous. “

A press release said that “The lack of a legitimate decision-making and accountable authority may have been responsible for bringing the city to a standstill during the monsoon rains in July and August”.

The report says that there is a need for an empowered local government, and that the main challenge is resolving the city’s jurisdictional issues first.

The powers include giving local government the power to levy local taxes that can then be diverted to local needs. There is a need to reverse the top-down urban development model so that Karachi’s hinterlands are brought back into the conversation.

“Based on extensive consultations with urban planners, human rights activists, journalists, academics and citizens affected by the floods, the report finds that a strong anti-poor bias runs through urban planning and policymaking in Karachi,” it further said.

The report found DHA, KPT Housing and private builders to be encroaching upon most of Karachi’s natural drains, which results in their blockage.

“Most of Karachi’s natural drains are blocked either because they have been encroached on or have filled up with solid waste. However, these encroachments can be traced to many different agents, including the Defence Housing Authority, the KPT Officers Housing Society and private ‘builders’ with the connivance of state functionaries.”

Yet, the HRCP said, that encroachment by the poor are termed as the problem each time Karachi is flooded.

“HRCP also notes that the superior courts’ involvement in Karachi’s urban planning is problematic because it inevitably leads to anti-encroachment drives against the poor, causing more inequality and poverty.”

The HRCP called upon an end to an anti-poor bias in policymaking, planning and execution of projects.

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One Comment

  1. salman  December 21, 2020 6:02 pm/ Reply

    It may sound cruel but, poor or not, no one must be allowed to squat on land designated for public works. It has been a really bad habit of Pakistani awaam enabled by corrupt DMC, KE, SSGC, KWSB and KDA officials who take bribes to look the other way while poor people fresh off the bus from interior with no understanding of city planning and property ownership fill up unused landmarked for public works illegally and wait for such a time when a politician looking to get public favors legalizes their illegal settlement for vote and influence. This corrupt practice has lead to sewerge expansion lands illegally squatted on by settlements that later cry foul when incidents happen by their own fault and demand the government compensate them for losses they themselves were responsible for by their illegally occupying lands that were meant to prevent flooding. They cry foul against electricity companies for electrocution of children when they themselves illegally stole electricity for the entire illegal settlement. They cry foul against gas companies if a gas explosion burns their settlement down from a shoddy illegal gas line. They are at fault for what they suffer yet they use corrupt politicians to portray them as victims of the big bad government while giving those politicians excuse to interfere with the government and divert their attention to address issues that are insignificant in the face of the financial vows of the country. This behavior of the people has to stop along with the enablers in the government public bureaus. If this means removing settlements were built on land owning city native’s property or Government lands then so be it. It is not a matter of whether they deserve it or not but a matter of making a city start looking and feeling like a proper city not a patchwork of slums and ruins.

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