This week 50 years ago: Water scarcity, heatwave and summer exhibition – Newspaper

IT is now an established fact that ever since Karachi’s population began to increase exponentially the issue of insufficient amenities has been troubling citizens and the authorities alike. By the first half of the 1970s, the problem had become acute. On June 24, 1974 a spokesman for the Karachi Development Authority (KDA) feared that the city would have to face water shortage until the completion of the third phase of the Bulk Water Supply Scheme scheduled to be completed by end of 1977,subject to the availability of funds. Once completed, the city would get an addition 70 million gallons of water on a daily basis (MGD). He appealed to Karachiites to cooperate in conserving water so that the available quantity could be used by them.

On June 30, this newspaper reporting on the Karachi Municipal Corporation (KMC) budget for 1974-75 highlighted that Rs8.21 crore (nearly one-third of the total KMC revenue receipts) would be consumed in subsidising water supply, sanitation and maintenance of sewerage and drainage services.

One should be reminded that summer had fully set in, so the need for water could not be overemphasised. On June 28, three persons fell victim to heatstroke when the temperature in the city shot up to F112 degrees (44°C). The heatwave made matters worse for office-goers. Hot winds blew in the evening and humidity went down to 13 per cent. Weather experts had forecast that the wave would continue for two more days.

Difficulties for Karachiites didn’t end there. On June 29, a study conducted by the Jinnah Post-Graduate Medical Centre (JPMC) revealed that antherosclerosis — a disease caused by fatty and fibrous patches in arteries and other passages of blood circulation — was found to be common among the average nutrition group belonging to the lower socioeconomic section of the city. Its prevalence was high among women.

Then there was another issue related to, in a way, health. On June 27, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Mukadama Union in a press release stated that half of the vegetables and fruits that reach Karachi from upcountry by (the newly introduced) super parcel train were ‘damaged’ because the train was invariably eight to 16 hours late. The Pakistan Railways had discontinued to carry green vegetables by express trains. Instead, the super parcel train running daily from Peshawar to Karachi was supposed to reach the Sindh capital in 27 hours.

While all of this was going on, Karachi’s cultural scene, as usual, kept shining. On June 25, the summer exhibition of paintings and woodcrafts opened at the Indus Gallery. Inaugurated by the Local Bodies Minister, Jam Sadiq Ali, the show included works by more than two dozen leading artists of the country. There was a rich variety on display, ranging from oil to watercolour and from acrylics to mono-print, to three beautiful pieces of wooden sculpture by Shahid Sajjad. Others who contributed to the exhibition were Sadequain, M A Ahad, Ahmad Parvez, Ali Imam, Anwar Maqsood, Bashir Mirza, Hajra Rahi, M H Hanjra, Jamil Naqsh, Laila Shahzad, Lubna, Mansur, Maqsood, Ali, Masud Kohari, Mukhtar Ahmad, Munawwar, Nahid Ali, Naz Ikramullah, Noor Jahan, M A Rahi, Rashid Arshad, Shakir Ali, Shakira, Wahab Jaffer and Zahoorul Akhlaq. Wow! What a stellar line-up of artists.Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2024

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