Karachi’s Physical Planning Issues on the Eve of the Millennium

1. Karachi Planning And Management Agencies (KMC, KDA, KWSB)

The above mentioned agencies are badly managed and on the verge of administrative and financial collapse. In addition, they are over staffed by between 100 to 300 per cent.  Management studies are required to restructure them and to frame rules, regulations and procedures so that discretionary powers (which are the cause of all corruption and public inconvenience) can be put an end to. For instance, if proper rules, regulations and procedures for regularisation of building and land use violations, commercialisation and non-utilisation fee are developed for the KDA, the major source of corruption and public inconvenient will be removed. Also, if the KDA Director General is given the power to choose his own team and to determine postings and transfers within his organisation, (which he does not have at present) he can be held responsible for the affairs of KDA.

KWSB is in debt to a tune of Rs 46 billion. It has not even begun to service this debt. As a result, government of Sindh revenues are deducted at source for debt repayment thus depriving Sindh of a substantial and increasing amount for its development projects. In addition, the KWSB receives a subsidy of Rs 143 million from the KMC to operate sewage services. It only maintains and operates 20 per cent of Karachi sewage. The rest is done by the KMC. It is recommended that sewage operation and maintenance should be handed over to the KMC and the KMC can use the subsidy it provides to the KWSB.

Considerable additional funds can be generated by the KMC through property tax up-gradation (surveys have not been made since 1968); proper utilisation and rent enhancement of KMC’s considerable real estate assets; revision of trade licences fee; charged parking; resettlement and regularisation of stalls, push carts, other encroachments in the city; development of bus terminals, workshops and depots; and building of cargo terminals, warehousing and trucking stations which are functioning in an ad-hoc and informal manner all over the city causing social and environmental problems.

2. Sewage

Sewage is the priority sector for Karachi. Eighty per cent of the sewage of the City’s katchi abadis and planned areas disposes into the natural drainage channels of the city. The sewage systems that dispose into the natural drainage channels have been made by cooperative societies, cantonment boards and in an ad-hoc manner by KMC councillors and communities. These drainage channels have not been de-silted for years. In addition, garbage has been thrown into them. As a result, in many cases they are higher than the sewage system and so Karachi is constantly flooded with sewage. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded Greater Karachi Sewage Plan of the KWSB ignores this reality and tries to take the sewage to the treatment plants that, because of their location, cannot pick up Karachi’s sewage without digging up and relaying the present system. Enormous unavailable funds and time are required for this exercise. Due to this, only 30 per cent of the treatment capacity of 151 mgd of the treatment plants is utilised and raw sewage pollutes the sea and other Karachi water bodies. The Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) has proposed the conversion of the natural drainage channels into box trunks for sewage and rain water with small decentralised treatment plants at the end of the channels. The OPP has demonstrated this model successfully. If it is adopted for the whole of Karachi, it can be implemented without foreign loans (as it is low cost and integrates existing infrastructure) and in a short period of time. Since the KMC looks after the natural drainage system, this responsibility should be given to the KMC whose technical staff have been working with the OPP since 1992. With the subsidy of Rs 143 million per year that the KMC provides to the KWSB, all the main nalas can be converted into box trunks in a six year period by the KMC on the OPP model.

An ADB loan of US$ 70 million for the US$ 100 million Korangi Waste Water Project was cancelled by the then Governor Sindh, Moinuddin Haider and it was agreed that the OPP model would be applied to the Project. This would bring the Project cost to about US$ 20 million. It is important that this decision should be carried out with KMC involvement. It has been supported by a large number of Karachi NGOs and Korangi CBOs and if adopted would serve as a model for self-reliance and future planning.

3. Karachi Traffic

Apart from improved management, Karachi traffic flows can be improved immensely by implementing the projects described below. Pollution caused by traffic is a major reason for the environmental degradation of the city and down market land use changes.

3.1 Northern Bye-Pass

Once this bye pass is built, all port related traffic consisting of over 25,000 heavy diesel vehicles per day and the traffic generated for the wholesale markets will bye pass the city. The building of the bye pass will also open up land for the shifting of the Grain Market, Chemical Market and Metal Market from the inner city to the bye pass. This will decongest the inner city and remove hazardous activities from it. In addition, the bye pass will provide space for the location and expanding of the desperately needed warehousing, storage and cargo terminals which are at present located within the inner city in an ad-hoc manner causing social, economic and physical problems. The Project has been planned and Brig. Javed Ashraf of the KPT is in charge of it. It should be implemented immediately and all constraints for its commencement should be removed.

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