Residents of Karachi’s upscale Defence Housing Authority (DHA) on Monday gathered within the premises of Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) to protest against the lack of monsoon infrastructure and the administration’s failure to provide them basic amenities.
The protests followed the destruction wreaked by torrential rains that drowned the country’s business hub last week as both federal and provincial authorities failed to avoid blame games for the sake of people of the port city.
Amid suspension of cellular services due to prolonged power outages and flooding across Karachi, the overall death toll during the three-day spell of torrential rains in the city rose to 40 by Sunday.
While Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan has announced that both the centre and Sindh will be working together to bring much-needed relief to the people of Karachi, the masses still aren’t very happy over the authorities’ failure to provide them what they say are basic rights against the taxes they pay and contributions the city makes to the country’s economy.
“We wish to register our legitimate right to get the supply of basic amenities of potable water, stable electricity, effective discharge and flow of drains and sewerage, elimination of hanging electricity wires & data cables, fixing of broken poles, providing of security [as well as] repair and re-carpeting of broken roads,” read a statement by the residents of DHA Karachi ahead of Monday’s protest.
A second protest for later this week has also been announced by the aggrieved residents to take up their demands with DHA outside the Phase-I office on September 3 at 12:30 pm.
The list of 22 demands put forward by the residents of DHA include the return of tax money taken from them as development charges, that contractors and decision-makers be held accountable for constructing “useless” storm-water drains, an audit report of the DHA be made public so that it could be known how the taxpayers’ money was spent, and the authority removes charges and fees on every kind of activity, approval and transaction inside the residents’ own homes.
The complete list of demands is as follows:
- Return the taxes taken from Residents in the form of Development Charges for storm-water drains project worth billions which failed completely.
- Accountability of the contractors and decision-makers for these useless storm-water Drains.
- Immediate removal of these cement slabs in the middle of the roads with holes in them.
- Removal of “charges” and “fees” on every kind of activity, approval and transaction inside our own homes.
- Installation of sewage treatment plant immediately.
- Stop the pollution from 150 million gallons of untreated effluent from DHA to be dumped directly into the sea.
- Sharing of 10 years audit report so residents know how their tax money is being spent.
- Stop reclaiming land from the sea for more housing without an infrastructure plan. This will increase further drainage/ sanitation problems.
- Stop renting out empty plots for keeping animals.
- A separate area for the same demand regarding animals.
- Designated Slaughterhouses.
- New international standards drainage system to be installed immediately.
- Immediate repair of broken sewerage lines and roads.
- Hanging cables and telephone wires to go underground immediately.
- All electricity poles to be earthed and every pole be issued safety certificate by DHA. Saving lives is a joint responsibility. All lives matter.
- KESC statements to be taken seriously by DHA. “Non-KE wires on power distribution infrastructure, such as streetlights or TV, telephone or internet cables, are a major safety hazard, as they damage KE’s infrastructure and bypass safety protection mechanisms.”
- Beggars removed from every street signal.
- All empty plots to be garbage-free (empty plots are the responsibility of DHA).
- No more paying for water. Remove the Tanker Mafia immediately. If hydrants can have unlimited water supply why can’t our houses?
- No construction on our beaches. Spend our money on our drainage system.
- Make a proper system of debris removal and construction material spillover on our roads.
- All craters inroads due to rains to be attended immediately so as not to lead to more loss of life 22. Roads dug up for various utilities and left uncarpeted to warrant heavy fines to the contractors.
- Stop bringing in officials from around the country to head key positions in DHA and CBC. Locals of the city to be appointed only.
Earlier, most parts of DHA remained without power for more than two days, leading to angry protesters gathering at Do Talwar on Saturday night and chanting slogans against the DHA and other authorities for the poor infrastructure exposed by the rain and incessant power outages triggered by the heavy showers.
By the time this report was filed, protesters at CBC had refused to leave the premises until the board’s chief executive officer (CEO) arrived.