Nullahs threaten Karachi as monsoon nears
July 06, 2012
Despite tall claims by the Karachi City Government, business activities have been hampered and different kinds of viral diseases have spread in the city due to the slow-paced desalination of nullah and streams flowing in the city. The local government has slapped rain emergency in the city but due to lack of coordination among the civic agencies the cleanliness of these water tributaries is facing delay causing inconvenience to the residents.
Meanwhile, Rs 3,974.64 million was allocated in the 2012-13 budget of the local government for provision of medicines in hospitals while Rs 50.00 million was allocated for the desalination of nullah and streams. The government has allocated Rs 100 million for the nullah flowing in Nursery. Despite the early warring of Met Department about the monsoon season, the local govt has failed to accomplish the cleanliness of nullah and streams well in time although the MET department predicted 15% extra rain in this monsoon.
The government has claimed that the cleanliness of streams flowing into the sea are near to finish but majority of nullah and streams in the city are filled with waste, while encroachments have been set up on the banks of these streams. Commissioner Karachi Roshan Ali Shaikh has directed all deputy commissioners and assistant commissioners to identify potential sites at the risk of dengue fever outbreak in the forthcoming monsoons.
Chairing a meeting, he said it were the timely taken precautionary measures last year that protected the residents of Karachi from any human loss despite presence of the virus, which according to its set pattern, gains intensity during monsoons and post-monsoon season. He expressed satisfaction that during the first five months of the current year 65 patients were taken to different hospitals as suspected cases of dengue and 53 were found positive with no mortality and morbidity.
"This reflects the level of public awareness and sort of preparedness among the departments and agencies concerned; however, it must not be the cause of any complacency as outbreaks have to be handled with absolute care and caution," said the commissioner. He said the representatives of different civic agencies and departments being trained as master trainers to handle dengue related emergency situations under the "Green Karachi Trust" must train staff of their concerned departments as a routine matter. Roshan said adequate arrangements must also be made to disinfect areas located within a radius of 100 meters of the residence of confirmed dengue cases.
"This would be relevant to prevent further spread of the virus and also to eliminate the breeding points for Aedes Egypti, the mosquito carrying the virus. "It must be remembered that flying zone for this mosquito is not beyond 100 meters," said the commissioner. He also asked the deputy commissioners, representing different districts of metropolis, to also ensure close coordination with different hospitals and clinics working in their respective areas of jurisdiction.
Meanwhile, the KMC Municipal Department has not completed work on the cleaning of major nullahs of the city including Gujjar Nullah, Malir River Bed and Lyari River Bed because the machinery of KMC is out of order thanks to the negligence of technical works department. An official of KMC informed Pulse that the corporation lacks the required machinery to clean nullahs.
Meanwhile, the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KW&SB) has not started work on the cleanliness of sewerage system. Various slums of the metropolis like New Karachi, Orangi Town, Manghopir, Qayyumabad, Sultanabad, Liaqutabad, Site Area, Lyari, Kemari and other parts of the City are already facing the blockage of sewerage lines. The Karachi Electric Supply Company is also not removing electric kundas which may cause losses to human lives in case of rains.
Every year, the localities adjoining these nullahs and the secondary nullahs are inundated as the nullahs overflow. Every year in the rainy season, dozens of areas comprising shanties are extremely affected. According to a survey, work on the broadening of Gujjar Nullah is going on; however, the nullah near Zia-ud-Din Hospital has not been desalinated. The nullah near Wahid Colony overflows each year inundating the nearby areas. At the other side of the nullah Musa Colony is situated. Each year the walls bordering the nullah fall by causing water to enter the houses. The nullah passing under a road in Mianwali Colony worsens the state of affairs.
The rainwater from Liyari mixes with sewage and runs heavily to the nullah in Machar Colony and after that falls into the sea near Burmi Colony. The nullah has not been desalinated in Liyari. The nullah in Mianwali Colony is filled with garbage and every year it overflows because unwanted substances have not been removed from it. According to a survey conducted in the industrial area of Korangi, water enters into the houses if rain falls for a few hours. The residents of Ilahabad Colony, Bilal colony, Gulzar Colony and Awami Colony face problems as four nullahs in UC-4 of Korangi Town have not been cleaned. A nullah falls on the avenue that connects Maleer with Vita Chorangi.
The nullah is 8 feet wide and its wall has collapsed at many places. On one side of the nullah are located leather and lubricant factories while on the other side localities are situated. This nullah is filled with wastes from leather factories, excretion from cattle, and certain chemicals. Water from the nullah is causing skin diseases among the local residents. The nullah near Empress Market, Saddar, is also filled with garbage while the nullah that comes from Lines Area has encroachments. When rain falls, water accumulates to many feet on roads and streets in front of Rambo Centre and the whole area and dirt pervades the whole area.
The UC-5/6/7 of SITE Town are affected each year as a result of rainfall. Every year, claims are made by the authorities that the nullahs will be desalinated but in vain. The residents of Jahangirabad do not have places to dispose off garbage and throw it in the nullahs causing even more trouble to the area dwellers. The situation at two nullahs passing under Faisal Avenue was taken into account. One of them enters Mehmoodabad passing near railway line and the other is flows into Mehmoodabad in the PESCHS area. The condition of these nullahs is very serious as it looks like a huge heap of garbage. Nullahs in Mehmoodabad have not been desalinated because the condition of the area goes out of control when rain outpours in the area. The road that connects Mehmoodabad Gate from Defence View lacks places for the disposal of trash. The nullah in front of Sitara bakery is open and filled with filth. The pipes under the road at Bismillah Chowk have been blocked due to garbage. The encroachers have occupied the area aggravating the problem manifolds. On the other hand, the high-ups of Karachi Municipal Corporation have failed to manage stock of medicines for rain emergency in government hospitals and dispensaries operating under KMC.
The health department of the province has not devised a strategy for dealing with the situation resulting from rainfalls; the department has supplied neither vaccines nor additional medicines. This will end up in outbreak of contagious diseases after monsoon rains causing more problems to the citizens. The doctors are of the view that diarrhea tops the list of contagious diseases that are expected to break out this monsoon season.
Meanwhile, the citizens have been facing enormous difficulties for the last few years due to flu, fever, chicken pokes while almost 6000 patients daily visit various hospitals of Karachi. After the recent heavy showers that collapsed civic infrastructure in the city, increasing number of gastroenteritis cases are being reported at government hospitals. Majority of children brought to the healthcare centre are aged between four and nine years, while 75 per cent of them were feeding on bottle. The Medical Superintendent of Civil Hospital Karachi said there had not been any surge in gastroenteritis cases at the hospital yet. However, he said, the possibility could not be ruled out in the coming days.
Sources say 45000 patients come to the OPDs on a regular basis after the monsoon while an increase of 80 percent has been witnessed at all hospitals. On the other hand, the supply of medicines is inadequate to cater to the needs of thousands of patients according to the annual budget.