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A motorcyclist wearing a protective mask ride through a near-empty junction in Karachi, Pakistan. The mega-city is the capital of Sindh province. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Karachi: The Pakistan’s military and a top disaster management organisation have come to the rescue of the government of Sindh - the second largest province of Pakistan - so that emergency work is started immediately to save Karachi from urban flooding during the monsoon. The mega-city is the capital of Sindh.

On the Pakistan Army’s behalf its premier civil engineering institution - the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) - has been assigned the task of cleaning major storm water drains in Karachi to ensure that they carry rainwater straight to the Arabian Sea without causing flooding in congested and low-lying residential localities of the port city.

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The FWO has a record of leading Herculean tasks, such as building Karakoram Highway - the road linking Pakistan and China - and will involved in the construction of the new roads envisioned under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Sorry state of affairs

The army-led National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has also been given the task to do relief work in Karachi during the current monsoon. The NDMA has been the spearheading the federal government’s efforts against the twin emergencies of COVID-19 and locust swarms.

Less than a hundred millimetres rain late last month caused catastrophic conditions in Karachi, reflective of its poor municipal system. Social media was abuzz with photographs and video clips showing inundated roads, clogged residential streets, and expensive cars being swept away by rainwater.

The sorry state of affairs in Karachi attracted the attention of Prime Minister Imran Khan - whose Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf won the majority of National Assembly seats in Karachi in last general elections in 2018 - who ordered the Pakistan Army and NDMA to start disaster relief work in the city.

Just before Eid Al Adha, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah sat with Commander of Corps 5 of Pakistan Army, headquartered in Karachi, Lieutenant General Humayun Aziz and NDMA Chairman Lieutenant General Mohammad Afzal, to come up with an emergency plan to clean storm water drains of Karachi.

The meeting decided to assign the task to FWO, which will commence its work immediately after Eid Al Adha.

A spokesman for Sindh Chief Minister said that in the meeting, it had been decided to demolish physical encroachments (illegal settlements) to clear the passage of storm water drains.

The FWO and civil administration have to race against time to carry out the emergency municipal task as the next monsoon is approaching fast.