District Central has just started the second phase of the Sindh government’s Corona Emergency Ration Package programme, while the other five districts of Karachi completed this stage of the relief plan almost a week ago.
The Central district not only performed the worst in the first phase of the ration distribution programme but is also being observed to be the most problematic district in the second stage of this emergency plan.
The provincial government formed seven-member COVID-19 relief committees in every union council, union committee (UC) or ward of the city for identifying needy families. They are being headed by the deputy commissioners (DCs) of the six districts.
These seven-member committees are supposed to collectively gather data of needy families and then distribute rations to them under their respective DCs or assistant commissioners (ACs).
Of the 51 UCs of District Central, 50 are headed by chairmen affiliated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan. The party’s Mushtaq Ahmed of UC-14 told The News that the second phase — for which the district has been provided with Rs31 million — started there only a few days ago.
In the first stage the District Central DC’s office handed over ration bags to every committee member in isolation, and then they distributed them at their discretion without any checks and balances. The same situation has been observed there in the second phase.
One of the members in every seven-member committee is a Zakat committee chairman, who Ahmed pointed out is a worker of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
UC-14 Zakat Committee Chairman Muhammad Aslam admitted that he is a PPP worker. The co-opted member is affiliated with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, and the notable person on the seven-member committee is also from the PPP.
“Every member of the committee has a separate quota and is distributing rations individually,” said Ahmed. He claimed that UC-14 AC Imran Rajput has given his quota to Aslam. “I have seen Aslam’s signature on the quota of rations for the AC.”
The Pakistan Army, according to Ahmed, has been performing far better in the distribution of ration bags. He said that every UC chairman of District Central is dispatching ration bags under the supervision of an army captain in their respective UCs.
“The rations are from the army. We’ve only identified needy families, and they’re supervising the process. There’s no politics in this,” he said, wishing that the District Central DC’s office had distributed their ration bags in the same manner.
AC Rajput, however, denied all these allegations, saying that he provides ration bags for the areas he is unable to reach to the committee member beyond any political motive.
When asked why rations are not being distributed collectively in every UC of District Central in the same way the process is being carried out in other districts, he claimed that the dynamics of their district are very different.
“We have the largest number of UCs and the most thickly populated,” he reasoned. He said they do not have enough staff members to monitor how every UC member is distributing ration bags.
However, he claimed, they randomly call the notified beneficiaries asking them if they have received their ration bags. “The second phase will be completed in a day or two.”