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KU hit hard by storm

Karachi, June 27(The News): The monsoon rains preceded by heavy winds and thunderstorms in the city has wreaked havoc everywhere. The University of Karachi (KU) is also receiving its fair share of the gutsy winds, incessant rains, and ensuing damage. Due to the rough weather, more than 45 huge trees fell on the electric wires, cutting the power supply that eventually affected the water supply to the staff town and the departments. The water supply has been restored to some parts of the staff town, however the university engineers are still trying to fix the problem in its entirety.

The university is dotted with thick plantation that spreads across the entire length and breadth of the campus. There are huge trees planted alongside the power supply lines. The severity of the storm uprooted the trees at various places, which landed on the electric wires thus suspending the power supply. The campus was found unprepared for such calamity and the university's Engineering Department with its antique equipment and absence of crisis management, utterly failed to rise to the occasion. The Garden Department had no electric chainsaw to cut the fallen trees into pieces or tractors for that matter, to drag them out of the way. The power was available in the KU sub-station, but it could not be supplied to the university as the Engineering Department failed to re-erect the power lines within three days of the mishap.

Prof. Pirzada Qasim, Vice Chancellor (VC) of the university said that his people were doing 'alright,' as it was a calamity of huge proportions. Besides they could not do much, as they did not have the proper equipment. "We all are coordinating and working with each other to bring back normalcy on campus. The VC's house is also without electricity and it will be restored after other parts of the staff town get their power supply," Prof. Qasim said emphatically. According to him, water has been supplied to D, E, and F types of homes and the engineers were trying to supply water to C, B, and A type homes. The VC has constituted a 'Crisis Management Committee' to deal with wind and rainstorm situations. Dr Muhammad Qaiser is the convener of the committee.

A professor of the university expressed his resentment at the abject failure of the university administration to restore water and power supply to the staff town. He accused the Engineering Department of gross negligence and inability to perform their task in a proper manner and on right time. According to the Professor, the department had requested the university to hire some contractors to do the job of cleaning the mess and for reinstallation of electric lines. The department has been using a low strength generator to pump water to the upper-head tanks (as there are no underground tanks in KU homes) in the university homes, but that also got burnt and so, they had to borrow a 350 KW generator for the purpose, which however, failed to work. The engineers are of the opinion that at least one week is required to restore the complete supply of water and power.

Adel Ahmed, the university engineer, and Sohail, the electrical engineer said that they were working round the clock to bring some semblance of normality but outdated equipment and lack of manpower was hampering their effort. Sohail said that to supply water and power to 350 homes was not an easy task but now, they had purchased a standby generator to pump water in the absence of regular power supply, to prevent the same situation from happening.

Dr Abid Hasnain, General Secretary, Karachi University Teachers Society (KUTS) disapproved the university's official view of the situation. "The University has to stop the culture of 'adhocism' to run the university smoothly. Non-professionals are appointed who utterly fail when emergency situation crops up. Despite the fact that the KU substation has power, it could not be supplied to the staff town because non-committed people are handling the situation," he said without mincing words. He added that the newly constituted Crisis Management Committee had many professors who were already working on different committees. One of these professors was not working with university now but resided in the staff town.
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