KARACHI: Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar has announced that the next general elections will be held under a new census.
Umar’s remarks came during a press conference alongside Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi on Saturday.
Criticising the Sindh government, Umar said: “The Sindh government had collected all the census data themselves, however, they still protested.” He said that for the first time in Pakistan’s history, the census would be conducted using technology. The census would begin in September and would be conducted during a period of 18 months.
“Karachi census has been a long-standing issue,” he said. “Former president Pervez Musharraf did a lot for Karachi but he could not conduct the census. The census was conducted again 19 years later in 2017. We want the facts about the census to come out, involving all stakeholders. The summary will be sent to stakeholders after cabinet approval,” he said.
He added that the census is expected to be completed in early 2023, and constituencies would be demarcated following the conclusion of the exercise. Umar further said that the Sindh government is not ready to hold local body elections.
He said that the previous governments had not given any major plans for Karachi. He said the PPP has ruled over Karachi and the province for 13 years, yet there are issues with waste disposal, water and others in the city. He maintained that Prime Minister Imran Khan is aware of the problems facing the metropolis.
“The federal government would heal Karachi’s wounds. Work is underway on five major federal projects in the city,” said Umar.
Announcing good news for Karachiites, the federal minister revealed that the Green Line will be opened for the people next month. He said the Green Line project is a modern transport project. Several of its phases have been completed whereas 80 buses are being bought for it. Some buses will arrive on September 12 while another 40 buses will reach Karachi by next week, he added.
The minister elaborated that drivers have been recruited and a command and control centre has been set up and the IT infrastructure for the project would be completed soon.
About garbage collection and disposal, the federal minister said around 1.1 million tonnes of garbage would be removed from the drains of the city. “Sidewalks, underpasses and overhead bridges are being constructed on these drains,” he said. About 15 feet wide roads will also be constructed along these drains, he added.
He further said that the situation for draining rainwater is now much better and around 90 percent of the drains have been cleaned. “The recent rains have not caused any problems due to the storm drains being cleaned earlier.”
The planning minister said the third project by the federation is of Karachi Circular Railway (KCR). “Chief Justice of Pakistan helped us with the circular railway project. The project is from Karachi to Pipri and will cost Rs70 billion. It will cover 43 km, out of which 29kms would be elevated.”
The planning minister further said that the KCR would service 22 stations and the entire project will be run by the private sector. Umar revealed that the premier would visit the port city before September 30 and inaugurate the KCR infrastructure.
Referring to Karachi’s water woes, the minister said the K-4 scheme has been delayed for the last decade, but work on four projects will resume in five months. “We are trying to complete four projects by August 14, 2023. The Sindh government is responsible for water supply,” he said.
Under the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme, Rs7 billion were distributed in Karachi and Rs65 billion in Sindh, said Umar and added that Rs21 billion have been allocated for small schemes in the city in the current budget.
He said that the federal government has provided vaccines worth more than Rs10 billion for Karachi, however, the provincial government has so far failed to provide a single dose of the vaccine.