TIME TO REFLECT AND REDEFINE KARACHI
By Menin Rodrigues
July 12, 2022 – Rains come every year, but we live by our conscience every day of our lives. The ‘past and present’ aftermath of monsoons in our dear city has been the same – as we have seen pictures of flashfloods in 1947 and 2022. How unfortunate that since the past 75 years of our independence we have not been able to solve this chronic problem. Why is it so?
The only difference between an inherited Karachi of seven decades ago and the megacity it has become today, is that we have lost faith in our ourselves – the ability to address persistent civic issues that have paralyzed the city from time to time. The monsoon rain is one of the important ones. Sadly, all we do is claim its heritage, reminisce the past and console ourselves by calling our beleaguered hometown, a city of lights, pride, and resilience, etc.! It is far from the truth.
Karachi’s population in 1947 was 470,000 people, in 1957 it was 1.8 million, in 1967 it went up to 3.1 million, in 1977 it was 5.2 million, then in 1987 it climbed to 6.4 million, in 1997 it shot up to 9.1 million, in 2007 it was rose to 11.7 million and in 2017 it reached 16 million. Today, in 2022, it is over-crowded with 22 million inhabitants (approximate estimates). People from all over the country come here for economic sustenance, and together we break laws, evade taxes, and build our own fiefdoms. In this melee, the conscientious and law-abiding citizens become a rarity.
Our city has grown exponentially, literally bursting from its seams, but little has been accomplished in rectifying civic utilities, electricity, gas, water and in particular storm-water drainage. It has expanded in infrastructure developments that have reshaped the city’s contours in size and density and proffered the coffers of the dishonest among us. Good things are visible too but unfortunately dwarfed by the sheer incompetence of identifying and tackling civic urgencies – and therefore, the trauma of facing the reality of a harmless annual feature, the rains!
Imagine, and God forbid, if a disaster like an earthquake (the city is already on the fault lines) or a tsunami (though protected by the mangroves) hit Karachi. What will we do? Make videos, share with friends and revel in the limelight? Or identify, study, and introduce the science of town-planning and management? We must deal with the miseries of the people and let citizens enjoy the monsoon season, it is a gift of nature and a blessing from the Almighty.
We cannot deceive ourselves anymore because we have failed to govern the city and its growing needs. The past was, indeed, another country and another city, administered by the consciousness of ‘another breed of people’ – the forefathers and torchbearers of this metropolis we call home. And as for its present, it’s time to reflect and redefine Karachi. It is the proverbial breadbasket of Pakistan. Menin Rodrigues © 2022