Oh…The Clean Clean (not) Streets of Karachi

Birth_Centenary_1986_of_Jamshed_Nusserwanjee_Mehta-Pakistan

August 30, 2019

I’m visiting “The Big Apple” … and it’s clean!

Jamshed Nusserwanji Mehta was the 1st Mayor of Karachi in 1933.  “…Karachi became the cleanest city in the East. Its broad streets, lights, sanitation and water system, … [ ] … spoke of the city’s progress” (https://www.dawn.com/news/649943/in-memoriam-jamshed-nusserwanji-the-builder-of-modern-karachi).  My grandfather told us how the Mayor ensured the streets were washed twice a day, which he personally supervised periodically.

Look at where we are now … ☹☹☹.  We can have all the latest, mechanized tools but there’s no “system” or “will”, so we might as well [continue] to live in the dark ages.

There is no reason Karachi cannot reclaim this glory.  I AM KARACHI (http://iamkarachi.org/), the social NGO, has proven that keeping city walls clean & painted with street art, ensures no vandalism or defacement of property.  In the same vein, once the city is cleaned & maintained by the Municipality, there is absolutely no reason why we will not maintain the same.  I am not justifying wrong actions but it’s only when our citizens see a clean city will we continue the practice … and there’s no rocket science involved.

Throw out all mechanical tools and go back to Jamshed Mehta’s simplicity – put idle bodies on the roads, give them a broom and bucket each and get them to deep clean the roads, the garbage bins, the nooks & crannies every night from midnight to 6am.  Put a garbage bin on EVERY alternate light pole; on every street corner; at every traffic signal – enabling people a means to throw their daily trash!  Through the day have roving street cleaners who will simply pick up large debris like cans, plastics, etc.  You will create EMPLOYMENT. 

You will give an honest day’s wage to the unemployed and a meaning to their lives.  Infant mortality will increase.  You will eradicate mosquitos, disease and other scourge of pollution.  These are not simply PR words – this can happen!

In return, we will get a clean city and healthy citizens. 

The Real Father of Karachi- https://www.dawn.com/news/1113332

Manora Lighthouse & St. Paul’s Church

August 21, 2019

We live in a City but hardly go to visit the sites therein…and Karachi has plenty to see!

So, off we went some years back to see Manora’s Lighthouse and St. Paul’s Church, both located in the Karachi Harbour and both which we pass regularly when sailing. 

This is not only the second oldest lighthouse (1889) of the British Raj but, we were told, ONLY one of two lighthouses in the WORLD which are still cranked by hand (and not battery operated).  The other lighthouse is apparently in Chennai, India.

There is still a lighthouse keeper … and every 50-odd minutes, he has to physically crank the lever that rotates the light, dusk to dawn!

Crank
Lighthouse steps

Hats off to the Karachi Port Trust in maintaining this iconic structure and the traditional art of operating the lighthouse successfully for the last 130 years.

The still-active 1865 Church, St. Paul’s, stands adjacent to the Lighthouse – and maintains a weekly Mass every Sunday for the Christian residents of Manora Island.

According to https://www.ibiblio.org/lighthouse/pak.htm, the British captured Manora in 1839 and made it their initial base of operations in what is now Pakistan.  The lighthouse & Church are located on the southeastern tip of the peninsula facing the Arabian Sea. 

Not only was this our first visit ever to both these legendary icons but a first for us on Manora Island itself.

Manora Island and Karachi Harbour

A future “Malir River-Basin Dam”?

(Photo credit- https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Malir-River-Basin-MRB_fig1_325475799)

August 12, 2019

Last week I had written about recycling & harvesting rain water (https://dinshawavari.com/2019/08/08/and-the-rains-are-upon-us/).  Then we faced rains in Karachi which I have not seen in decades.  The “natural” effect of this was the massive misinformation & incorrect (some genuinely mistaken) social media warnings & alerts on the effects of the rains in Karachi. 

One post in particular, on the flooding of Malir River, got me thinking.  At the outset, let me clarify that these are my personal views and I hope it doesn’t lead to controversy …

               Water flowing down Sindh province makes its way into Malir River, which generally lays dry through the year.  It’s only when we have sudden rains or this current set of rains when it fills up, and in the latter case, overflowed too.

               The major sources of Karachi’s water are the Hub dam, Keenjhar lake & Haleji lake.

Why don’t we “DAM” up the Malir River Basin within Karachi’s limits?  Why let the precious rain water go to waste, into the Arabian Sea?  If Karachi is seeing its own effects of climate change and our soothsayers predict more of this to come, let’s channelize that water into a massive & natural reservoir down Malir River.  A dam in the middle of the City will also become its own, inbuilt tourist attraction (just like Nasser Dam is in Egypt).  It’s just a matter of finessing this future dam as the main structural setup is already in place.

There will NOT be any negative environmental effects – in fact it will save water; be a positive social change for the people of Karachi through tourism; it will control the environmental pollutants currently flowing into the Malir River. There will be other benefits!

Do you water experts out there agree to this- or a variation of this idea?

(Photo credit- Samaa TV)

…AND THE RAINS ARE UPON US …

August 8, 2019

rainwater harvesting.jpg

(Photo credit- https://www.instructables.com/id/20-Rainwater-Catchment-System-No-Gutters-Required/)

Ironically, in March, I had blogged https://dinshawavari.com/2019/03/25/water-water-everywhere-but-not-a-drop-to-drink/.

… and now the rains are upon us and we don’t have any catchment system.

Karachi is facing proper monsoon rains for the first time in decades.  It’s a good thing too – it cleans up the city; there is more greenery; the temperature drops; and life is so much more pleasant; and the three major reservoirs supplying water to our City get filled.

What is lacking are individual CATCHMENT systems.  Each building can easily have their own rainwater harvesting systems – it doesn’t have to be expensive.  After the last set of “rains” a few weeks back (though our rains are nothing compared to what India and Bangladesh have to go through during their monsoons and cyclone seasons ☹) I started reading up on rainwater harvesting systems.  In our part of the world, Tamil Nadu leads the way!  Brazil, Singapore & Australia are other successful examples.

Just as an example, when reading this website http://www.oas.org/usde/publications/unit/oea59e/ch10.htm, I realized the cost and process of making a catchment system is not prohibitive or unreasonable.  It can even work effectively with a simple tarpaulin.

There is a great need for our Government to lead the way in promoting private households, buildings and tall rises to try to catch and reuse rainwater – the WATER IS FREE PEOPLE … we just need to capture this very very scarce resource and utilize it for non-drinking purposes.

(Here’s another article- https://outdoortroop.com/how-to-capture-and-store-enough-rainwater-for-your-cabin/).

rainwater catchment

(Photo credit-  https://radio.krcb.org/post/rainwater-catchment-systems)