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Sindh govt has nothing to do with cleaning of cities & towns, minister tells PA

KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly was informed on Tuesday that the provincial authorities had received requests from local governments of Sukkur and other cities of Sindh to help contract out cleaning works to Chinese companies as was arranged in three of Karachi’s districts.

“The Sindh Solid Waste Management Board has received such requests from the municipal bodies in Sukkur and other districts of Sindh in which they have sought the provincial authorities’ help to contract out cleaning of those cities by private Chinese companies as being practiced in Karachi,” said Information Minister Saeed Ghani while discussing a resolution moved by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Bilal Ahmed.

The resolution raised the issue of the persistent problem of garbage in the city, asking the provincial government to get the SSWMB to expedite its efforts in cleaning Karachi once and for all.

The house unanimously adopts a private resolution asking the govt to take effective steps for collecting garbage in Karachi

Mr Ghani said sanitation and cleaning was the mandate of the municipalities concerned in the city and elsewhere in the province. However, the provincial government was there just to “facilitate” them.

“The provincial government has nothing to do with the cleaning of cities and towns in Sindh. Our government in 2014 had made a law which formed the SSWMB to facilitate the district municipal corporations in Karachi and other parts of Sindh to ensure sustainable cleaning of the cities, which had been a long-standing problem,” he said.

He said SSWMB had helped four out of six DMCs in Karachi to ink contracts with Chinese companies for cleaning of the neighbourhoods that fell within their limits.

“The Sindh government or the SSWMB cannot on their own grant contracts to the sanitation companies. The law requires every municipal body, in this case elected councils of DMCs, to pass resolutions to allow the board to mediate in such contracts.”

Without elaborating, the minister said the contract given to a Chinese company to clean DMC West had been rescinded. However, other companies were engaged in the work involving sanitation and lifting of garbage in other three districts — Karachi South, East and Malir.

“The hygiene profile of these three districts is better than the ones where no private company is involved,” he claimed.

He said in July the provincial government had ordered SSWMB to support the districts where DMCs were themselves engaged in cleaning.

He said a recent initiative of the chief minister to clean Karachi was mainly aimed at lifting the backlog of garbage strewn across the city. However, what was more important to undertake was the removal of the debris that had become a common sight across many streets and neighbourhoods.

He said construction debris was increasing along streets since people were dumping it without proper disposal.

“That initiative taken on the instructions of the chief minister was extremely important, as it was very hard to rid the city of piles of garbage and mountains of construction debris,” he said.

The minister said the government had instructed the SSWMB to make sure that the performance of the Chinese companies in three districts of Karachi should further improve.

Besides, he added, the three DMC, which had allowed the private companies to work in their limits, would be permitted to oversee the work of the sanitation companies on their own and guide them for proper disposal of garbage.

He said the private companies had been mandated with manual and mechanical sweeping, door-to-door collection of garbage and its proper disposal.

However, the companies were charging for only those jobs which they were doing and by no means, the Chinese companies were being paid without proper oversight.

“There are committees which recheck the works undertaken by the Chinese companies before making payments. Almost routinely, the invoices are slashed and deductions are made after rechecking of their works. Sometimes, even penalties are imposed on them for any deficiencies,” he claimed.

Mr Ghani said despite several actions taken by the provincial government there were several factors involved which hindered smooth garbage disposal in the city.

He said he would recommend getting union councils and union committees involved in sanitation works.

Earlier, the mover said there was just 883 tonnes of garbage being lifted from the city on a daily basis, while just Karachi East produced more than 1,200 tonnes of garbage.

He said little was being done vis-à-vis manual sweeping while polythene bags were not being supplied to households.

He asked why SSWMB was contracting out lifting of garbage in Karachi and not other cities and towns of Sindh.

PTI’s Khurrum Sher Zaman claimed garbage was not being collected from doorsteps despite government’s claims.

He said the population of dogs was increasing in the city because piles of garbage offered them suitable environment to grow in number.

Deputy Speaker Rehana Leghari put the resolution before the house and got it passed unanimously.

The resolution demanded the Sindh government to take appropriate and sustainable measures for collecting garbage from Karachi.

Earlier, the chair deferred an adjournment motion tabled by Mr Sher Zaman in which he called for a debate on the rising incidence of Congo-Crimean haemorrhagic fever (CCHF).

He claimed some 39 cases of the CCHF were reported this year while 10 of them had died.

Health Minister Azra Pechuho said some 31 such cases had been reported this year and 15 of them had died.

She said the virus particularly affected people during the Eidul Azha days as 14 CCHF cases were reported during those days alone.

The chair deferred further debate on admissibility of the motion as the mover wanted to listen to the minister for livestock who was absent.

Later, ruling PPP’s Riaz Sheerazi asked the provincial government on a point of order to play its part in construction of barrage by the federal government in the coastal area on a suitable location.

He said the present designs as shared by certain federal authorities with him showed the regulator would be built 50 kilometres away from the distance that could protect the lands from the sea.

He said the sea had already devoured millions of acres of coastal districts.

Nadir Magsi said the provincial government should, in the first place, be questioned why it had allowed the barrage on that location.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Chawla said he would inquire about it further.

Published in Dawn, November 6th, 2019

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