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Karachi: After Shaniera Akram, Shaista Lodhi tackles civic issue

It seems that the only time a clean-up exercise takes place in Karachi is after a celebrity takes up an issue on social media.

After Shaniera Akram got the Sea View beach cleared of hazardous medical waste, Dr Shaista Lodhi has brought an abandoned park in District Central’s North Nazimabad neighbourhood to the notice of the relevant authorities.

Earlier this month, cricket legend Wasim Akram’s wife Shaniera had tweeted about medical waste washing up on Sea View, prompting not only the Sindh government but the Clifton Cantonment Board to take immediate action.

Similarly, former morning show host Shaista came across a viral post on social media regarding the miserable condition of the Khawateen Park, commonly known as Rani Park, in North Nazimabad’s Block-H.

This place seemed to be the one where she had spent most of her childhood. The park is not only in a sorry state, with rusted swings, but all of its entrances are blocked with heaps of garbage.

She tweeted on Sunday: “This place is close to my heart as I have lived most part of my life there. It’s disturbing to see it being neglected, to say the least.” She also requested the relevant authorities to revamp the park and ensure the provision of other basic civic amenities. “Secondly, I would love to help in creating awareness among masses so that they don’t destroy public places and can also assist the authorities in any other required capacity.”

Her appeal was addressed by Rehan Hashmi, the Central District Municipal Corporation’s elected chairman. In his response to her tweet, Hashmi made the assurance to do whatever he could with his meagre resources. “Let’s make it a sustainable symbolic model.”

In a video statement after that, Shaista invited all the residents to join them in restoring the Rani Park to its past glory.

“This park is close to my heart, because I spent 13 years of my life near it,” she recalled. She said that now it was in such an extremely bad shape that no rani would want to walk there. “I remember how housewives used to take a stroll in the park in the evening with their children.”

On Tuesday morning Shaista and Hashmi carried out cleaning work in the park. The former morning show host painted the swings, planted a tree and drove a tractor to get rid of garbage strewn across the park.

She told the media that she could have just complained on social media regarding the miserable state of the park, “but I thought I should play a role”. She appreciated how Shaniera played her role in cleaning Sea View. “We [celebrities] are blessed that people [the authorities] listen to our voices. We should use them positively.”

Hashmi, meanwhile, once again said how helpless he is because of the lack of funds and resources. “We make our best efforts to develop the parks, but with the current resources from the Sindh government we can’t do that.”

He suggested forming mohalla committees to address such issues. He said Karachi lacks ownership. He vowed to replicate such efforts in the future so that the citizens also start owning their city.

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