The anatomy of a disaster

This afternoon I was given a detailed tour to understand the reasons for rain water accumulating in Bath Island. Starting from the storm water drain that passes near the French Consulate, I traced the drain all the way to Nehar-e-Khayyam and then to Boat Basin where the nehar is meant to discharge its water. My guide was Ardeshir Cowasjee and you can read my observations on the Bath Island disaster after the jump.

1. The storm water drain meant to collect rain water in Bath Island is virtually hidden. A good 15 feet in width, it runs along the back of a row of houses before it was covered by the government in the 90s. Slowly but surely, the home owners extended their boundary walls around the covered drain ensuring that there was no way of accessing the drain to clean it. Even the Aga Khani Jamaat Khanna has a parking lot over the drain which has become part of the jamaat’s complex. To their credit they maintained manholes over the drain and have of team of 10 odd cleaners who were working underground to clear the drain and using wheelbarrows to dump the debris outside.

2. Khayban-e-Jami i.e. the Clifton road on which the Jamaat Khanna is located has a series of 8 underground pipes that carry the water across the road. They are blocked. In fact, the government has laid a steel pipe across the mouth of the Bath Island storm water drain to prevent that water from flowing in order to allow the KPT underpass water – which has been partially channeled that way – to flow.

3. Where the Bath Island storm water drain empties into Nehar-e-Khayyam lies a shocking obstruction. A narrow conduit – no more that 8 feet wide – has been built on the side of Nehar-e-Khayyam which is all the space that the water is meant to flow in. The rest of the Nehar is to be filled in and sold off for future high rises. Apparently no one in the government is willing to own up to building the narrow conduit. In any case the conduit – on the opposite side of the Nehar to KGS – is incomplete, blocked and it sort of joins the Nehar a hundred yards on.

4. Boat Basin’s level is controlled by the tide. When the tide is high, the water flows back into Nehar-e-Khayyam. Crossing the boat basin road that leads to BBQ Tonight on foot from Nehar-e-Khayyam, I ended up on the wall on the other side that looks out onto Boat Basin itself and could see the water flowing back towards the Nehar. What this means is that even if the storm water drain is cleared and so is the Nehar, if it ever rains so much that the drains fill up then that part of Clifton is doomed because the drainage is at the mercy of the tide.

A long post, but necessary to indicate the short-, medium- and long-term threats that the particular area of Clifton faces.

12 Comments so far

  1. Alz (unregistered) on August 23rd, 2006 @ 3:25 pm

    Wow!! you sure revealed some facts about our dearest city :)

  2. Kashif (unregistered) on August 23rd, 2006 @ 6:37 pm

    Why so much hue and cry for clifton alone? Nobody cares about Malir, Korangi, Orangi and other less-privileged areas.

  3. verysmart (unregistered) on August 23rd, 2006 @ 7:04 pm

    Cy, good post mate.

  4. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on August 23rd, 2006 @ 9:39 pm

    Kashif because this is first time that people of defence and clifton are using “Victoria” as mode transportation.

  5. danny (unregistered) on August 23rd, 2006 @ 10:39 pm

    What’s a “Victoria”?

  6. wasiq (unregistered) on August 24th, 2006 @ 2:08 am

    Man i haven’t been in one of those(victoria’s)for ages….lucky you.

  7. Da-Man (unregistered) on August 24th, 2006 @ 7:33 am

    Great Post CY.

    Credit goes to Cowasjee for showing in detail the ineptitude and greed of the authorities and proving beyond any doubt one of the design flaws of the KPT underpass.

  8. Arsalaan Haleem (unregistered) on August 24th, 2006 @ 9:55 am

    Cy, an excellent detailed ‘tour’ of clifton’s other ‘underpasses’. I would suggest that you should send the same write-up to newspapers Dawn and The News so that the readers, not to mention certain government officials, of this megapolis can be made aware of the impending disaster.

  9. MB (unregistered) on August 24th, 2006 @ 10:03 am


    Is BathIsland , on which we have posted many topics, is all that Karachi is about ? When on earth we shall discuss anything other then Nehar-e-Khayyam, Boat Basin, Bath Island & CLifton Underpass etc.

    Some on had told me a long time back that its not KMB , Karachi Metblog but Klifton Metblog coz the only thing authors discuss here is one special area of Karachi.

  10. mansoor (unregistered) on August 24th, 2006 @ 1:17 pm

    bath island and clifton are the WORST affected areas due to the recent storms in the city. Most of the other parts of the city are either cleared up.. or being cleared up in a managed way.. for clifton, the ‘managed way’ (read the nehr, which cy brilliantly wrote about) is not available.

  11. Kashif (unregistered) on August 24th, 2006 @ 1:21 pm

    Klifton MetBlog, LOL :)

  12. wasiq (unregistered) on August 25th, 2006 @ 1:42 am

    guys this is very unfair….now who on earth,i mean karachi,do not pass through the main-land CLIFTON/BATHisland on their way to the seaview,ghazi shah or zamzama etc…? everybody once in a while…..isn’t that true…?

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