Karachi is Suffering in the Heat

Posted on June 24, 2007
Filed Under >Bilal Zuberi, Disasters, Society
34 Comments
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Bilal Zuberi

Imagine 42 degrees celsius (107 degrees Farenheit) weather, no electricity, no fans, high humidity, no drinking water, and knee deep water on streets. Now imagine living through that for more than 24 hours. Terrible!

That is precisely what most Karachiites have been going through for more the past 2 days. A huge monsoonal storm hit the city yesterday, followed by torrential rains. And then the infrastructure of the city that had already suffered several major blows in the past 2 months simply came crashing down. The city now sits in a giant puddle, surrounded by fallen trees, billboards, traffic lights, and rooftops.

Due to the severity of the storm, several trees were pulled out of the ground and are now left stretched across streets, many large bill boards fell on top of passing cars and people, electricity wires were found dangling from the poles leading to several people dying of electrocution, roofs of poorly constructed homes fell killing the residents, rain-related traffic accidents led to further deaths, and now people are suffering without electricity and proper transportation in the maddening heat. Reports are indicating that more than 50 people have died and more than 200 have been injured in Karachi already in the aftermath of the storm. Even those who have lived in the city and watched many monsoons go by are claiming this storm to be among the worst they have weathered. It seems the first wave of the storm has passed by but the city is still struggling to play catch up from all the destruction that it caused.

Karachi has suffered every year in the summer – but this summer has truly been an exception. Loadshedding, whereas practiced for at most a few hours a day in other parts of the country, has been extended to over 10-12 hours each day in Karachi. At least in one part of Karachi, Gulshan Iqbal, residents have had electricity for barely 3-4 hours in the past 48 hours. They have run out of clean water and people are borrowing water from their neighbors who have electricity generators to operate their underground pumps. If one was to take a chopper and fly above those areas at night, one would see most rooftops dotted with chaarpaais. People are routinely taking to the roofs at night to find some air to sleep in.

It is no surprise that there are agitated demonstrations on the streets in almost all parts of the city, resulting in burning of maintenance vehicles, other cars, and of KFC franchise stores. Those with job i n the morning are barely getting a few hours of sleep each night, those living in tall flats and apartments have no roofs to go to, the sick and the elderly are suffering, and food/milk is rotting in their refrigerators. Even those with some influence are suffering. Portable electricity generators have given up in this heat. Others simply can’t afford one that can power major equipment, or can’t afford the fuel to run them 10 hours a day. Given the generator usage in the past month or so in Karachi, I would certainly want our environmental monitoring stations to report the increase in carbon monoxide, ozone and particulate emissions in the city.

Where is the administration amidst all of this mess? There have been pronouncements on TV (it is strange that due to the electricity shortage, I am able to have better access to news on Pakistan TV stations while living in the US than my own family that lives in Pakistan) that the City Nazim has established an emergency cell in his office, but results are yet to be seen. When residents of one area drove to the nearby KESC office to at least learn when to expect the electricity back, they found a big lock outside the door. Fearing their lives, and having no real plan of action, many KESC workers have fled the offices.

Here is what Dawn had to report on the electricity situation:

According to sources, fire broke out in Orangi grid station neutralising seven other grid stations that plunged major part of the city into darkness. Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Gulistan-i-Jauhar, Federal B Area, North Karachi, Orangi and the adjoining areas remained without power for several hours. This was in addition to sniping of wires and uprooting of electric poles in many localities.

In addition, KESC faced generation shortage as its flagship Bin Qasim was generating only 595MW by sunset and Korangi Thermal Power Plant along with Tapal were off. Supply from Hubco was also interrupted due to tripping in Valika. Owing to this the KESC was only receiving 270MW from WAPDA from Jamshoro Circuit instead of 700MW. The KESC Director Operations claimed that grid stations and feeders had been closed to protect the system from rains.

With the first drop of rain the KESC shut down its 35 grid stations and more than 400 feeders, 30 per cent of the feeders were closed due to tripping while the rest were closed as a precautionary measure. The KESC Director Operations claimed that except for 10 grid stations all were reactivated. But the areas served by the reactivated grids were still in darkness. “This could be due to local faults,� he claimed, however, he had no answer as to who would rectify those faults.

While uprooted poles, broken electric wires were lying on roads, the KESC was still unable to identify them and take measures to secure the area.

Is is shameful that in the largest metropolitan city of the country, people are having to live in these conditions. Everyone that I speak to is on the verge of giving up hope for the city. It appears the administrative system has collapsed, or has been rendered unable to do much in terms of providing relief. The nature and cause of the massive electricity shortage is a topic of another post all by itself, but right now there is a great need for emergency efforts to make sure the elderly, the children, and the ill are provided care in these difficult times. The weather is playing havoc, and the lack of basic amenities is multiplying the suffering.

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34 responses to “Karachi is Suffering in the Heat”

  1. M.AKRAM KHAN NIAZI says:

    Cheap Electricity From Kalabagh Dam a need of Citizens of Karachi.
    Disease of Provincialism in Politicians of NWFP and Sindh is mainly responsible for power shortage mayhem and the resultant chaos in the society due to tormenting blackouts and long power outrages.
    Importance of Electricity Versus Wastage of Water for Feudals.
    Why opposition on generation of electricity by Kalabagh Dam in which no water is wasted but provide option of safe storage of water for future use. Electricity is the need of each and every minute and moment of human life, people can not tolerate outage of electricity for one hour while agriculture land can tolerate need of water even many weeks, but why importance to agriculture of few feudals and no importance to electricity which is the need of each and every citizens of Pakistan generally and Karachi specially, because life of all citizens of Karachi(city of lights and Industry) revolves around provision of cheap electricity.

    • Children weeps in the night due to high temperature and mosquitoes bite due to outage of electricity,
    • Students can not study in night due to outage of electricity.
    • Industry can not run without electricity.
    • Machinery can not run without electricity.
    • Surgeons can not operate without electricity.
    • A patient on life machine can not survive without electricity.
    • Even in agriculture we can not use Tubewell without electricity.
    • Fertilizer can not be manufactured without electricity.
    • Pesticide can not be manufactured without electricity.
    • Sugar Mills,Cotton Mills,Textiles Mills.Flour Mills,Rice Mills can not run without electricity.

    Above points clearly indicates that use of water for generation of electricity is 1000 times better than wastage of water on land or in sea for few feudals, because water wasted in land or sea is not recoverable but water use for generation of electricity in Kalabagh Dam will be available for use for agriculture and Industry as it was suitable before generation of electricity and there will be no wastage of water.

    Sindh,Balochistan and Frontier are against Kalabagh
    because as per Sindh LOGIC Thar Coal is better than Kalabagh as Kalabagh will emmit BLACK SMOKE and Thar Coal will emmit fresh air full of Oxygen.
    And as per Balouchistan Vision GAS and coal extracted from Balouchistan are one of the most clean source of energy and Kalabagh will pollute air and land resouces and people will drown in Kalabagh and no one is dying in the coal mines of Balochistan.
    And as per Frontier wisdom, Royalty of Tarballa is so important that Pakistan can be broken for that and three rivers of Punjab can be sold to India by General Ayoub belonging from frontier for Construction of Tarbella in Frontier but Kalabgh dam is not good looking as it is in Punjab.
    All provinces want Provincial autonomy but Punjab should open or close its canals , IIRIGATE ITS LAND AND construct Dams as per desire of other provinces and after asking from other provinces Because it is necessary for unity and prosperity of Pakistan as when there will be no agriculture,no electricity and no water then Pakistan will be more united and more prosperous.
    From all above points it is clear that NWFP and Sindh who are opposing the generation of electricity and preservation and safe storage of water in Kalabagh dam are criminals of humanity as well as of World and politicians of these provinces are mainly responsible for shortage of electricity in the country and cities.

    Written By:M.AKRAM KHAN NIAZI.
    Karachi,Pakistan

  2. zafeer ahmed says:

    it is thinking level of current government of pakistan and specially mr current cheif minster of sindh qaim ali shah sb that most of gdp rate of pakistan comes from sindh and what the pakistan government gives in the return nothing . so plzz plz again i can request to minster of resources of oil gas and elecrticity of sindh you must take quick action thanks your sincer zafeer ahmed memon civillion person of sindh

  3. Mirza says:

    Well, the real and true problems of Karachi are those heavy amounts of population which is half of the population of Karachi and that is Chowderis and pathans who came here only for earnings and business. Its shame that they earn here, they live here but they do not own this city and they don’t love this city. They lives in kachi abadis illegally and sharing all civil facilities at the cost of people of Karachi who are paying taxes. They are destroying this city and felt happy in doing this. They propagate against Karachi and MQM is an apple of an eye for them selves. For Karachi they have Bughz-e-Mavia in their hearts and its not new itys as old as 1947. The governor, Nazim and MQM are doing well for Karachi and it will be continue, inshallah.

  4. baber says:

    ATP hasn’t written anything about Balochistan yet.
    Surprised? Its a province we care less about? isn’t it?

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