Karachi limps back to normality after two days of downpour
KARACHI: As Karachi came to terms with the devastation caused by two days of moderate rainfall, the death toll rose to 23 with five more people reported dead in rain-related incidents, officials said on Wednesday.
Of the 23 deaths, 19 were caused by electrocution sparking anger against K-Electric, whose ill-maintained transmission and distribution system wreaked havoc on the people of Karachi.
Also on Wednesday, following the intervention of the Pakistan Army the situation turned normal in the low-lying localities in Scheme 33, particularly Saadi Town, where gushing rainwater had caused flooding. However, the power supply in many areas remained suspended even after the passage of 24 hours.
Korangi Road closed for traffic; death toll rises to 23
While the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan has demanded the KE pay compensation to the families of those who died of electrocution, the city administration is going to hold a meeting on Friday in which the Karachi commissioner will direct the power utility to revamp its distribution system to avoid recurrence of loss of human life in future.
Five more die in city
Sirajuddin, 35, and Mohammed Bux, 28, were brought dead from Landhi and Shah Latif Town areas, respectively, to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre on Wednesday.
Dr Seemin Jamali, the hospital’s executive director, said that both of them were electrocuted.
The Shah Latif Town police said that Mohammed Bux was trying to run a motor pump in his house when he suffered an electric shock and died.
A 14-year-old boy drowned in the Lyari River on Tuesday and Edhi volunteers could not recover the body till Wednesday.
Rescuers said four boys were swimming in the river near Teen Hatti when they drowned. Three of them were rescued. However, the body of the fourth one, identified as Usman Nazeer, could not be recovered despite hours-long search.
Twelve-year-old Mohammad Amin drowned in the Malir River. The body could not be recovered till Wednesday, the rescuers said. He was a resident of Samar Town.
A three-year-old child drowned in rainwater accumulated near New Sabzi Mandi off Superhighway on Wednesday evening, according to an Edhi Foundation spokesperson. The body of Amjad was recovered.
Flooding in Scheme 33
Hours after the intervention of the army and round-the-clock operation by the civic authorities, the situation turned normal in the low-lying Scheme 33 area, but the power supply remained suspended even after 24 hours.
The army, which was deployed on Tuesday afternoon when the situation started to deteriorate, completed its job on Wednesday.
A statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that the troops put their focus mainly on five different spots which helped control the situation and all affected facilities were cleared by afternoon.
“The engineering corps team of the army took measures to prevent all localities from flooding. For this purpose it built an 800-metre temporary barrage that helped spreading water further into the residential areas of Saadi Town and other societies of Scheme 33. The troops also carried out an operation to drain out water from [a KE] grid station that was submerged on Tuesday evening.”
The flooding of Karachi-Hyderabad Motorway was caused by a breach in the Thaddo Dam located in Gadap Town. The fresh episode came as a grim reminder of a 2013 incident when rainwater wreaked havoc on Saadi Town and Sadat-i-Amroha Cooperative Housing Society near the Superhighway. Within minutes, the residents found themselves surrounded by floodwater.
Water gushed into their homes and their floating parked cars banged into one another. People drowned, too, and after four days when the water started to recede there were more problems to face such as diarrhoea, sore throats, fever, itching and other skin problems.
This time round the situation, residents said, was not that bad due to timely intervention of the army. However, area people showed anger over performance of K-Electric which, they said, had kept them without power for 24 hours.
Korangi Causeway closed
Also, the Korangi Road was closed for vehicular traffic after it was submerged by rainwater from the Malir River.
Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Shallwani visited the Korangi Causeway and Qayyumabad and directed the administration to keep both the arteries closed for vehicular traffic until rainwater was drained completely.
He was informed that it might take two or three days to clear the Korangi Causeway.
Meanwhile, traffic was badly affected due to a ditch caused by rainwater accumulated on Northern Bypass.
MQM-P, PSP slam KE
The MQM-P on Wednesday demanded that K-Electric pay compensation to the families of those who died of electrocution in the city during rains.
Senior MQM-P leader Faisal Subzwari and Kanwar Naveed Jameel made this demand at a press conference held here.
Mr Jameel announced that the MQM-P would provide all legal help to the heirs of around two-dozen victims of electrocution and drowning if they decided to approach courts against the Sindh government and K-Electric.
Pak Sarzameen Party chairman Mustafa Kamal also held the KE responsible for the death of around two-dozen people due to electrocution and said that the people of Karachi saw no positive change in KE during its 12-year privatisation period.
Adviser to Sindh Chief Minister on Information, Law and Anti-Corruption Establishment Barrister Murtaza Wahab in a statement on Wednesday said that the death of innocent people in Karachi due to electrocution was a clear evidence of the negligence of K-Electric. Barrister Wahab blamed the decayed infrastructure of KE for loss of innocent lives in the metropolis. The adviser said that the “incompetent administration” of K-Electric was doing nothing to mend its ways.
Commissioner summons KE officials tomorrow
The city administration has taken strict notice of incidence of electrocution during the last two-day rains and asked K-Electric and others to attend a high-level meeting to discuss preventive measures.
Informed source told Dawn that Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Shallwani would preside over the meeting on Friday.
They said that the distribution head of the power utility, electrical inspector of the provincial government, managing director of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board, representative of National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) and provincial energy secretary would attend the meeting.
The sources said that K-Electric would be asked to revamp its distribution system to avoid recurrence of loss of human lives in future.
Meanwhile, the commissioner along with Brig Kazi Nasir Mahmood of the Corps V had an aerial view of the city in helicopter. He told Dawn that all major arteries in the city were completely functional and activities to drain out rainwater were being conducted satisfactorily.
Published in Dawn, August 1st, 2019