Courtesy: daily dawn, Friday, 26 Jun, 2009
BY: ASLAM PERVAIZ ABRO
SHIKARPUR, once a commercial centre providing routes for transportation of Indian goods to western India and Central Asia, carries a history of culture, heritage, hospitality and civilisation.
Founded by Bahadur Khan Daudpotas in 1617, the city had earned fame in the subcontinent for its aesthetic beauty, excellent administrative set-up, institutions for high learning, well-endowed hospitals treating patients from far-flung areas, underground drainage system, brick-paved roads, the fortification wall, eight gates, delicious ‘achhar’, and extensive woodwork in houses having intricately carved timber façades.
Because of its perfume industry and the then modern buildings, the city was called Paris of the East.
Despite having such a rich history, today’s Shikarpur has lost its past glory and projects a view of no less than a misery-struck and backward village.
Burgeoning rural-urban migration, mismanagement and maladministration, poorer attention of government, rampant crime and tribal clashes are the factors leading to the current sorry state of affairs.
Owing to virtually no basic amenities of life in the adjoining villages, tribal disputes and atrocities of local waderas, villagers are forced to leave their places and settle in city suburbs.
Tribal clashes have broken the backbone of economic and social structure of the entire district.
Antagonism among several tribes has so far been irreconcilable despite several jargas held under the auspices of successive governments.
These clashes have triggered the law and order situation and an open display of arms in the name of self-protection by the people of the respective tribes. Some people argue that tribal disputes actually serve the interest of tribal chieftains. Today, life and limb of a common man is not secure.
A journalist of a Sindhi newspaper who raised the voice of truth and right was gunned down in 2003 and his killers are still at large.
Looting and kidnapping for ransom has been a routine. The risk of being looted or abducted is very high at night on Shikarpur-Sukkur, Shikarpur-Larkana and Shikarpur-Kandhkot Roads.
Recently, security was beefed up by the Rangers that provided auxiliary patrolling force to the police, thus the crime ratio spiraled down to some extent under the command of DPO Khadim Hussain Rind.
Misappropriation and embezzlement of government funds on several annual and other development programmes have consigned the city to a wrenched condition.
The annual budget of the district for 2008-09 was Rs2,395.867m . The fate of the city would have been different if the budget had been spared of embezzlement and utilised properly.
Tenders for construction of roads and other development projects are awarded by the EDOs concerned to their favourite contractors or to those who have an ability to bribe the stakeholders.
As a resultant, roads constructed with substandard material erode within no time. These dilapidated roads have been constructed so many times with inferior material that layers upon layers of gravel and pebbles have raised the roads several feet above the actual land level pushing down houses and other historical monuments.
At the moment a mega project named Rehabilitation and Improvement of Urban Drainage Scheme (RIUDS) is under way in the city. It was started in 2007 with an estimated cost of Rs382.978m. The pace of work is very slow.
Tender for this project was awarded to local contractors who do not have a profile of doing any mega project. About two years have passed but not even one-fifth of the project has yet been completed.
The land has been dug up and heaps of sewage and mud are spreading all round the city but contractors have no idea how to manage things.
Almost every street is inundated and stinking with sewerage waste threatening to germinate fatal epidemics.
The basic responsibility of putting the things in order is of district nazim and bureaucrats but they seem to have no concern for the city and turn a blind eye to massive corruption. Now the city is a shambles.
I request the government to take corrective measures to save the city from further deterioration.
ASLAM PERVAIZ ABRO
National Accountability Bureau, Sindh