Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah directed the finance department to release Rs2.39 billion on Wednesday so that five mega projects for Karachi may be completed by June 2021.
Earlier, during a meeting with World Bank representatives at the CM House, Shah called attention to much awaited revisions in the drainage system of the metropolis.
The CM was apprised that eight out of the 12 roads surrounding Lea Market in Lyari which were to be rehabilitated under the project have been completed and 85 percent progress has been made on the four remaining roads. The reconstruction of the 8000 Road from Jam Sadiq Bridge to Dawood Chowrangi is also 90 percent complete, he was told. The CM directed the finance secretary to release the remaining funds by Friday and directed project director Khalid Masroor to complete the work by January.
The CM was also briefed on three new schemes, launched at the cost of Rs909.92 million. These include the reconstruction of roads from Ghani Chowrangi Rasheedabad and from Habib Metro to SITE Police Station and reconstruction of the main track from Ghani Chowrangi to Hub River. Around 10 percent progress has been made on both of these schemes and funds are yet to be released, the meeting was told.
Besides, reconstruction of stormwater drains, including a dual carriageway from Ahsanabad to Maymar Road, has seen 25 percent progress and awaits release of funds.
Shah issued directives for the release of 50 percent of the allocated funds and directed Masroor to complete the schemes by the year’s end. The finance secretary was further told to release the remaining 50 percent of funds after a utilisation report was submitted.
With regards to another scheme – the reconstruction of the road from Gulbai to Y-junction, including a stormwater drain – Shah told the Masroor to complete all Hawkes Bay Roads simultaneously so the area can be opened up for tourists.
Sindh, WB to ‘improve drainage system’
Meanwhile, meeting World Bank (WB) country director Najy Benhassine, Shah told him the monsoon rains two months ago wreaked havoc in Sindh.
The CM said he had therefore decided to conduct a study of Karachi’s drainage system and would be making necessary changes in the Left Bank Outfall Drain (LBOD) too.
The CM told World Bank officials that NED University of Engineering and Technology, conducting the study in Karachi, had been asked to suggest ways and means to improve the drainage system so that water can be disposed of in line with natural gravity.
According to Shah, the varsity will complete the study within the next two months. The city’s drainage system would then be redesigned accordingly, said Shah, seeking the WB’s expert support in designing a modern drainage system.
Meanwhile, he also pointed to design defects in the 385km-long LBOD.
Built in the late 1990s and partially financed by a consortium of eight international lenders, including WB and the Asian Development Bank, the LBOD is an expansive – and expensive, running more than 40 per cent over the estimated costs – drainage system. It has received much criticism over the years, especially with the 2010-11 floods. Studies of its apparent faults have been planned before as well.
According to the CM, it began flowing backward during high tides at sea. “Therefore, instead of disposing of saline water or rainwater, the LBOD submerges nearby localities.”
He urged the WB to provide technical assistance to the provincial government in removing design defects from LBOD and was assured of support by Benhassine.
Besides, the meeting identified a need to conduct property surveys in Karachi and Hyderabad. The last property survey in Karachi was conducted in 2001 by the excise and taxation department, according to Planning and Development chairperson Muhammad Waseem. Now, it will be carried out by WB experts, said Waseem.
The meeting noted that only Rs2 billion was collected in property tax from Karachi – less than in Lahore – adding that the Sindh government wanted to conduct property surveys in Karachi and Hyderabad to increase property tax recovery. These funds would financially strengthen local bodies, claimed the CM.