Whatís the drainage situation, high court asks CBC and DHA

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday directed the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) and the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) to submit complete details with regard to the assignment of work relating to storm water drainage in their respective jurisdictions.

The direction came on a contempt-of-court application filed by DHA residents against the CBCís chief executive officer, chief engineer and other officials for not complying with the courtís orders about submitting details relating to storm water drainage in their neighbourhood.

DHA and CBC residents had filed a petition with regard to effective infrastructure for sewerage and drainage system, and compensation for damages to lives and properties suffered by the cityís people during last yearís monsoon rains.

The applicantsí counsel said that on May 24 the SHC had directed the DHA and the CBC to submit details with regard to engagement of services of expert civil engineers to design and complete the second stage of storm water drainage and assignment of job work relating to it.

They said the alleged contemnors did not provide the relevant details, and requested the court to issue show-cause notices to the authorities concerned for not complying with the courtís directives.

The counsel of the DHA and the CBC waived the notice and undertook to file a counter affidavit on the application. The DHA had also filed a contingency plan based on the observations during last Augustís heavy rains to deal with any emergency that might arise due to during downpours.

An SHC division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Shafi Siddiqui said the court had also directed to implead the National Disaster Management Authority and the Provincial Disaster Management Authority as necessary parties in the case.

The court directed the office to issue notices to both the disaster management authorities and direct them to file their respective comments within 10 days. Petitioner Azar Kalwar and other DHA and CBC residents said that at least 41 people were killed across Karachi due to the August 27 and 28 rains. They said people, including DHA and CBC residents, suffered losses of millions of rupees due to catastrophic flooding.

Their counsels including Mohsin Shahwani and Salman Mirza said that heavy rains had wreaked havoc on the city, and the authorities responsible for handling the situation had failed to perform their duties as required, resulting in the cityís residents facing extreme hardships, which still continue.

They said that there was a complete failure on the part of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, the cantonment boards, the Karachi Water & Sewerage Board, the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board, the DHA and the Karachi Development Authority, as they had been extracting millions of rupees in taxes under different heads but spending nothing on infrastructure.

They also said that there should have been a complete audit of the amount being received by them because nothing is being applied on the maintenance of infrastructure. They sought the forming of a committee to conduct a comprehensive evaluation in respect of the drainage infrastructure, and directions for the DHA and cantonment boards to take all necessary steps to construct efficient storm water drainage systems in their jurisdictions.

They also sought various injunctions in respect of collection of development charges, and conducting any further land reclamation and construction of floodplains and essential channel for drainage.