September 6, 2020

Karachi has been neglected at several levels and borders on the criminal

The unprecedented rains in Karachi this year have yet again exposed a horrible lack of preparedness on the part of all authorities having a mandate for the welfare of its people. The neglect has been at several levels and borders on the criminal. The Meteorological Department recorded a total of 484 mm (19 inches) of rainfall during the month of August, with the highest daily rainfall of 130 mm at PAF Faisal Base on August 28. This exceeded all records but what excuse can there be for a failure to heed abundant climate change warnings? Can states and societies be so adamant in their refusal to see the kind of looming threat and still hope to prosper? When are we going to start climate action in line with the changes that have happened and the ones that are projected?

That said, the administrative chaos and bureaucratic inefficiency have shown no sign of abating over the years. The ordinary citizen pays dearly for this. Besides the loss of precious lives, property worth billions or rupees has been damaged in Karachi alone. Businesses in the port city, like farming communities in the rural districts, have been hit hard. Even with prompt relief and support it will likely take them a while to recover. There is the need for and talk about compensation for certain types of losses but the mechanisms are still not clear.

The provincial government has declared 20 districts as calamity-hit, meaning there will be some compensation and support coming the way of those worst hit. The federal government might need to pitch in. The local government tier, now devoid of representative leadership, has a challenge at tis hands.

Have the major political parties claiming the popular mandate on account of the votes polled at various levels sobered up enough to focus on the work rather than a blame game that is as easy as it is tempting? Only time will tell.

Meanwhile for the citizens must look after themselves to the best of their ability and hope and wait.