by Zofeen Ebrahim, IPS
KARACHI, Jan 27 (IPS) – A fire which razed a slum settlement and killed 40 of its residents earlier this month has brought to the fore the deplorable conditions in which half of the 12 million people of this port city live – and official indifference to their plight.
The government speculates that the blaze could have been caused by a live wire falling onto the roof of the shanties which were made of bamboo, cardboard and other combustible material. “Initial investigations suggest there was no foul play in the incident,” city police chief Waseem Ahmed told reporters.
But Zahid Farooq, programme director of the Urban Resource Centre (URC), is not entirely convinced and suggests that the conflagration could have been a case of arson. “There have been too many instances where such ‘accidents’ were planned to evict the poor from the land.”