1839, Talpurs ruled a small fishing town which was an underdeveloped harbor with poor roads structure and garbage-collecting system. With a population of 20,000 people, fish trading was the major source of earning. Then later, the British took over this harbor and evolved it into an impressive trading post. They worked on the sanitation system, built the city’s infrastructure and introduced modern policing in the city called Karachi.
From this point, the city’s economy started taking a boom but the population still remained diversified. There were 40 percent Muslims, 51 percent of Hindus and 9 percent were the Christian and Zoroastrian community. People started knowing the city as “The Paris of Asia.”
At that time, it was also the cleanest city of the world. In 1947, the partition happened and Karachi became part of Pakistan. The Hindus in the city migrated to their hometown while Muslims were moved to Karachi. A huge influx of Muslim refugees arrived from India and Karachi doesn’t have enough resources to accommodate their living. The luck strikes in the export industry and Karachi became the leading exporter of jute, cotton and other agricultural goods to the US troops which added to the city’s economy and it started progressing. At that time, Karachi also had the cleanest beaches.
After becoming the part of an independent country, Karachi became the home to the immigrants from India, Bangladesh and Afghan refugees. People started looking at Karachi as a ray of hope to survive and land for growth and opportunities. The refugees and immigrants never returned to their homeland which fuels the problems for the original dwellers of Karachi. But still, the people of Karachi became the helping hands and turned the darkest days into a remarkable history. That’s how Karachi has always been thriving. More than the authorities, the people of Karachi own their place and help their communities despite the race and religion but this Karachi flood 2020 is now outside residents control and really needed the representatives to come out of their ‘Crystal Palaces’ and look into the situation.
What Cause Urban Flooding in Karachi?
It’s not the first time that Karachi has come across this unprecedented time. In 1931, the city received the worst rainfall which led to urban flooding. A similar instance also happened in 1984 when 298.4 mm downpour was recorded. Then in 2007, 272mm rain hit the Masroor base and now in August 2020, the city again received a record breaking rain of 228.5 mm. The Met officials confirmed that the rain broke its 90-year record leaving the people in woe. The obvious causes are the poor infrastructure of the city and turning deaf ear to the monsoon updates. How unfortunate is that we have no preparations for the monsoon season which happens only once a year.
Scenes out of Karachi are absolutely catastrophic. It’s not the volume of the rain we had, it’s about how prepared we were. We had 355 days this year when it didn’t rain, only to prepare for it when it did. And what did we do? https://t.co/2HqKp5lsZ5
— Shaniera Akram (@iamShaniera) August 27, 2020
1. The City’s Poor Infrastructure is the First to Blame
Nearly half of the city’s population live in slums (katchi abadis) which are built around waterways and natural drainage channels. Their drainage depends on the nullahs nearby which have also become the place for dumping the waste. As a result, it chokes the pipelines and the downpour affect the roads. When the rainwater in the city don’t go anywhere, it becomes the risk to people lives causing electrocution, power shutdown and thousands of people on Allah’s mercy. Even those, who are stuck on the roads possess a life risk. This is an alarming situation for the government because if they still don’t look into the matter then the biggest economic hub of Pakistan might lose its role in growing Pakistan.
2. Pakistan’s Most Vulnerable to Climate Change
According to the Germanwatch report, Pakistan ranks 5th in the list which is vulnerable to climate change. Karachi is however progressing but if these natural disasters aren’t managed effectively, we might be drowned in it.
“In terms of economic costs at $3.8 million, we are number three over a 20-year period. What this means is that our economy is constantly at risk from climate catastrophes and this is not just an environmental challenge but an issue impacting our economy, human health, agriculture and ecosystem,”
` Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam Khan
3. Flood Protection Measures are a Major Miss
Rain has been happening in Karachi but the irony is that we wait for the Sun to dry the water standing on the streets. The city is developed without flood management planning which becomes a serious challenge for human lives and public development.
The weather forecast and prediction department are doing their job in predicting the monsoon season but it all goes in vain when the government doesn’t care to address it.
This shows that only Karachiites are doing their part in saving people from this disaster. In these difficult times, people of Karachi still haven’t backoff and step up in the water to save the locals.
— Ali Irtaza (@IrtazaKhan786) August 27, 2020
There are also scenes circulating on social media where people are rescuing the police officers from drowning. The NGOs in Pakistan also step out to save the city from the major loss. But the damage has been done. The elite DHA area is completely under the water. More than 30 deaths have been recorded in the various rain-related incidents. People are living without gas, electricity and water. More than the pandemic, the heavy monsoon spell has affected Karachiites and people have no hopes from the government.
It’s an alarming situation for Karachi because if a more natural disaster happens like this then Karachi might become a telltale for the future generations.
How Long Will the Management Sleep?
Karachiites have given up so much to the city that the officials have left the city to people’s mercy. Unfortunately, this time the flood in Karachi 2020 has damaged the city to the core. This is because of the poor management, poor infrastructure planning and negligence of the authorities. If we still don’t let the government accountable for their action then the time is near when the next flood will be taking the whole city with it.
I pray that Allah brings back the prosperity of our city of lights.