Heatwave and free drinking water
KARACHI: The city administration is often chided for not caring enough for its citizens. The criticism is usually related to the fact that it does not preempt a situation and instead of being proactive it reacts to crises, which often becomes a case of ‘too little too late’.
Last year’s heatwave that struck Karachi on June 19 and 20 is an example where a number of people died owing primarily to two reasons: one, the city administration did not anticipate the extreme weather conditions; two, there was no system in place which could have saved those who were struck by the torrid wave.
This time, however, Karachi’s civic authorities seem to be on their toes to prevent a potentially difficult situation before it develops into something monstrous. These days, we can see drinking water barrels placed at different spots in District South within an area covered with a small tent to keep the water cool.
The banner that hangs over the facility (which is basically water stored in a large drum) reads ‘Commissioner Karachi ki janib se shehrion ke liyey peene ka saaf pani’ (clean drinking water for citizens from the commissioner of Karachi). It is nice to see such an effort being made. But the question that can be raised here is that whether the facility is provided for those who live in District South, for example, in the Teen Talwar vicinity, or for the rest of the city.
Talking to Dawn, Karachi commissioner Syed Asif Hyder Shah said: “Last time the lapse occurred due to a lack of awareness and because people don’t hydrate themselves the way they should. If there’s water in front of you, you will drink it. If there isn’t, you won’t. We call these water facilities relief centres.
There are 500 of them across Karachi, and not just in District South. Apart from that, we have asked every third shop in big bazaars such as Zainab Market and Tariq Road to have a cooler in their verandahs. By the next week, we hope to cover all the markets. Even the industrial area people have promised us to have 10 to 15 relief points.
Then other institutions and groups like Voice of Karachi, the Rangers, K-Electric etc have expressed their interest in establishing such camps, so we are including all those in our system who wish to extend a helping hand. It will soon run into the thousands,”said the commissioner.
“On the curative side, we have identified 56 hospitals, 26 of which are private, for tertiary care which will enable us to treat 1,850 patients at a time. You see, for a heatwave patient time, more than any hospital, is more important. Our intention of having 185 first-response centres for basic treatment will also come in handy.”