Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has said that Karachi's issues are not new and that everyone needs to be on the same page to solve the issues of the city.
Shah made the remarks on Geo News special transmission — "Jeenay Do Karachi Ko" — to discuss Karachi's problems with the representatives of main political parties in the city.
“The city’s issues are not new; they have been here for some time. In the past four years, we have worked a lot on cleaning the storm drains in the city,” he told Geo News, noting that a new monsoon spell entered on July 26-27, with the last heaviest rainfall recorded since 1977.
He added that there was a lot of rain back in 2007 when nearly 200 people had died.
“The Sindh government has been giving funds to the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) to clean the nullahs in the city,” the chief minister said.
“In the last four years, we cleared many nullahs in the city. Despite the rain, the water was cleared within three to four hours,” he said.
"The major problem is due to a major structure which has blocked all nullahs in Karachi which are the responsibility of the cantonments and DMCS.
"In recent times, the responsibility to clean the storm drains lie with KMC and Sindh government has given money to clean the nullahs,” he said.
The spokesperson for the Sindh government, Senator Murtaza Wahab, said he would identify the issues plaguing the metropolis rather than engage in mudslinging.
"Until and unless we all understand the challenges that Karachi faces, they cannot be resolved," Wahab added.
CM Shah underlined that although 187mm of rainfall was recorded in Surjani Town and Nazimabad, the rainwater was cleared in 3-4 hours.
"Shahrah-e-Faisal was not blocked despite the heavy rain," he added.
In the past four years, a lot of work was done to clean the nullahs, he said, but that water stagnated at KDA and Nagan Chowrangis for four or five days. "Even now, there's rainwater in New Karachi," he added, saying the government had been giving funds to the KMC to clear the nullahs.
Admitting that the KMC was short of funds, he said only Rs1.5 billion was collected through property taxes in Karachi, as opposed to Rs55 billion in Mumbai in the same category.
He added that at least $10 billion was required to develop Karachi.
'One man doesn't have entire city's domain'
Responding to the Sindh chief minister’s remarks about the KMC having the responsibility to clean up drains in the city, Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar said a problem was that the city did not fall under the domain of one man.
“One person does not have entire city's domain," Akhtar said, adding that the issues stemmed from the fact that the powers were not with one person.
"Till the local governments are not given power, nothing can be done. Cleaning nullahs is my responsibility but I only did so until I had the resources," he added, stressing that had Article 148 been imposed, the city would not have been facing these issues.
The nullahs would not be cleaned until the DMCs have funds and resources, he said, adding that the KMC was short of Rs130 million in salaries.
'Karachi's identity should not be lost'
A senior leader of the PTI and Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly, Firdous Shamim Naqvi, said everyone has been "hearing for many years that there will be a master plan for Karachi".
"But there's currently no active master plan for Karachi," he said. "A master plan should be prepared in proportion to the population growth" of the metropolis.
The state of public transport is such that people travel on the roofs of buses, Naqvi highlighted.
Speaking of the recently-formed committee comprising representatives of the Centre and Sindh government, the PTI leader said its mandate was "for specific projects only".
However, "Karachi's identity should not be lost," he underscored.
'Create towns' to decentralise Karachi
PSP Chairperson Syed Mustafa Kamal, on the other hand, claimed that the chief minister of Sindh was not being provided accurate information. If that continued, he warned that "problems will not be solved".
"It is wrong to say that the situation in Karachi was bad before but is better now," said Kamal, who was the mayor of Pakistan's financial capital from 2010 to 2015.
He rejected the idea of multiple districts in Karachi, saying the city "should remain one district".
"If Karachi is to be decentralised, then create towns," he suggested.