PM Imran unveils Rs1.1 trillion development package for beleaguered Karachi

PM Imran Khan arrived in Karachi on Saturday for a day-long visit where he announced a tremendous Rs1.1 trillion development package for the crisis struck city.

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PM Imran Khan on Saturday unveiled a “historic” financial package worth Rs1.1 trillion for Karachi’s transformation that he said will address the chronic municipal and infrastructure issues of the country’s financial hub.

The city’s drainage and sewerage issues were brought into national focus last month after record-breaking monsoon rains caused widespread devastation and left dozens dead.

Addressing a press conference in Karachi alongside Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and Governor Imran Ismail after chairing a meeting of the “Karachi committee”, the premier said the federal and Sindh governments had decided to deal with Karachi’s problems “together” following negotiations.

Noting that floods caused by heavy rains have hit not only Karachi but Balochistan, interior Sindh, Swat, and his own constituency of Mianwali, Imran said it was decided in view of unprecedented rains that all of Karachi’s issues would be tackled at once, and negotiations were subsequently held.

“I would have come [to Karachi] sooner but we had to make a structure,” he said, revealing that the transformation plan would be implemented through the Provincial Coordination Implementation Committee (PCIC) under the chief minister.

He said all stakeholders will be involved in its implementation. “The army will play a big role,” he added, noting that the army helps the civilian administration whenever there are floods or a calamity.

“The package we have brought for Karachi is historic,” Prime Minister Imran said, adding that the federal and provincial governments were both contributing to the Rs1,100 billion package.

The first problem the plan will address is of water supply and the Centre and Sindh government will each work on a part of the Greater Karachi Water Supply Scheme, also called K-IV. “Our effort is to permanently solve Karachi’s water problem in three years,” the premier said.

He said the second problem is of encroachments on nullahs on which the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has already started work.

“The people who will be displaced [during the anti-encroachment drive] are the poorest so the Sindh government has taken responsibility for resettling them; federal government will obviously remove encroachments,” he added.

The third and fourth issues that the plan will focus on are concern the city’s sewerage system and solid waste disposal. “We will make a proper system,” Prime Minister Imran said.

“There is also the problem of transport. We will also complete the KCR (Karachi Circular Railway) in this package. Then roads [will be built for] BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) and other lines. We have decided to completely solve the issue of transportation and roads,” he told the presser.

The premier said the Centre and Sindh had decided to solve Karachi’s problems together “once and for all” through the coordination committee as residents of Karachi “have had to go through a hard time”. But he acknowledged things were not all easy.

“There were different jurisdictions in different areas so implementation was difficult,” he said. “That is why we have formed PCIC so all stakeholders are in one place.

“I am very hopeful that the betterment to come out of the hard times that Karachi’s people have faced is that these problems will be solved.”

The premier is accompanied by Information Minister Shibli Faraz and MNA Amir Mahmood Kayani. During his visit to Karachi, PM Imran Khan will meet Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, members of the provincial assembly as well as businessmen, according to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

During his visit, PM Imran will also be briefed about the recent situation in Karachi after the rains.

PM visits rain hit Karachi to discuss current state of affairs

According to the PMO, a meeting of the “Karachi committee” is currently underway. The meeting is being chaired by PM Imran.

Read more: Imran Khan orders NDMA to fix rain ravaged Karachi

“Federal ministers Asad Umar, Shibli Faraz, Syed Ali Zaidi, Aminul Haq, the Sindh governor, the Sindh chief minister and others are present for the meeting.”

In a tweet a day earlier, PTI leader Faisal Javed Khan said the Karachi Transformation Plan was aimed at addressing the provincial capital’s long-standing problems such as “choked drainage and sewerage systems, encroachments, poor waste disposal, water supply and transport”.

Meanwhile, the information minister said the prime minster is determined to “restore Karachi’s identity as a true industrial hub” of the country and the backbone of its economy.

“The people of the city cannot be left at the mercy of the Sindh government which has destroyed Karachi over the past 12 years,” Faraz said in a tweet hours before the premier’s arrival.

Minister for Planning and Develop­ment Asad Umar added that the premier will announce the “biggest development package” in the country’s history for any city during his visit.

“This historic work will be carried out by the federal and provincial governments. Politics will not stand in the way of development and the people’s welfare. Similar work will also be carried out in other parts of Sindh.”

On August 27, the premier had said his government would “not abandon” the city’s people “in their time of crisis”.

PM Imran had made the statement after a record-breaking monsoon spell wreaked havoc in the city, causing waterlogging and disrupting power in several areas for multiple days, in addition to claiming at least 20 lives.

The premier had said that the federal government was “fully cognisant” of the devastation brought about by the rainfall.

“We will be announcing a plan for a permanent solution to the problems caused by floods by cleaning of nullahs, fixing of the sewage system and resolving the huge challenge of water supply to the people of Karachi,” he had announced in a series of tweets.

Bilawal optimistic about ‘massive’ support for crisis struck Sindh

On Friday, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari pinned hopes on the prime minister’s visit to Karachi, anticipating that the latter would be coming to the city with massive financial support for disaster-hit Sindh.

Addressing a press conference at the Chief Minister House, the PPP chairman came up with a list of demands and also with criticism ahead of the premier’s visit, saying he expected the premier would come up with rehabilitation, reconstruction and relief plans not just for Karachi but for the entire province.

Read More: Army called in Karachi: Where is the Sindh government?

Asked about the financial assistance provided by the Centre to the PPP government in Sindh so far, Bilawal sounded angry reacted strongly and repeating the term “puppet government” for the federal government.

“They should know that it’s not their personal money,” he said. “On one hand, the premier makes promises for the betterment of Karachi and Sindh and on the other federal ministers assert that they will not pay a penny to Sindh.

“This is public money which should be spent on the public. This attitude in fact weakens the federation.”

He endorsed the demand made by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah: for the Centre to provide matching funds for 24 uplift projects worth Rs802.39 billion for Karachi’s transformation.

Read more: Karachi: Who converted the city of lights into a city of garbage?

“If the amount we demand is allocated, we are sure that most of the city’s issues can be resolved. We need massive support from the federal government to pull the city out of this disastrous situation,” Bilawal said.

PM’s Transformation Plan for Karachi reviewed

PM Imran had reviewed the Karachi Transformation Plan on Thursday, officials said.

According to the Prime Minister Office, PM Imran said the biggest problems in Karachi’s civic matters was a lack of transfer of administrative powers to the gross-root level.

“It is the need of the hour to shift control on water supply schemes, sewerage treatment and disposal, solid waste management and the building control authority from the provincial government to the city administrator or local government to address these problems in Karachi,” the prime was quoted as saying.

Read more: PM speeds up efforts for “resolving” Karachi’s problems, wants plans to be finalised in a week

Unfortunately, nobody had thought about the problems being faced by the people of Karachi in the past, he said.

The prime minister added that recent torrential rains in Karachi had not only exposed the pathetic administrative system but also created a number of problems for the people of the city.

GVS News Desk with additional input by other sources

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