**KARACHI: At least one woman was killed in protest against hours-long loadshedding as they again turn to the Mauripur road section of the Lyari Expressway, a ring road that provides a freeway across Karachi, after police ended the demonstration. Residents came to the streets from alleys.
The deceased woman was identified as Meeran Bibi w/o Abdul Karim, age 60, rescue sources said. Police baton-charged the crowd and fired shelling. A heavy contingent of rangers and police deployed at the site.
Residents claim that they are facing water shortages and power breakdowns in the area.
16 hours of roadblock
The Mauripur road section of the Lyari Expressway, a ring road that provides a freeway across Karachi, was closed for traffic for over 12 hours after people took to the streets against the hours-long loadshedding in the sweltering weather.**
“The Mauripur Road from Due Hotel is closed from Monday for the second time [from 4 to 6]. The side from Bus Adda is also closed,” Sub Inspector Muhammad Ilyas at the Karachi Traffic Police told Aaj News.
Reports are there that police baton-charged the protesters. The closure of the road has impacted the flow of traffic at one of the important tracks of the city.
“The Lyari Expressway is not completely closed,” Junior Patrol Officer Faisal Khan at the motorway office told Aaj News. “We have created a diversion at the Garden Interchange. The track from Sohrab Goth area till Garden is open.”
But, he added the IG side of the road, which includes Netty Getty, is closed due to the protest.
Protesters’ negotiations with the police failed as they vowed to continue to protest until the K-Electric resolved the power issues. A large number of women have also joined the protest, prompting the police to call in lady constables.
Residents of Sector 13 G of Orangi Town protested outside the K-Electric grid station in the wee hours of Tuesday. They had blocked the road as a protest, according to updates by 7:00am.
Heatwaves & rising temperatures
“Some people say that such extreme temperatures were witnessed one hundred years ago,” says Professor Nausheen H Anwar of the Institute of Business Administration and the founder and director of the Karachi Urban Lab project. She recently contributed to a study on the impact of extreme heat and Covid-19 on the urban poor in Africa and Asia.
“Due to climatic changes, extreme weather and chronic heatwaves will be part of the experience of South Asian countries including India and Pakistan,” says Professor Anwar.
Dr Anwar also found fault with the manner in which heatwave readings are being taken don’t take into context the humidity, which can be very high due to Karachi being a coastal city.
“In Pakistan and in Karachi, we look at ambient temperature. But that doesn’t doesn’t give you the complete picture about the temperature,” she said while pointing out the humidity factor.
“In the current weather, when humidity and high temperatures come together, the actual feel of the heat, which is called the heat index, is much higher. It is so intense right now that some poeple say it feels like 51 degree Celsius.”
She points out that Karachi’s heat emergency plan and the readings of the met department don’t take this heat index into context.
Therefore, once the heatwave is over, we assume that the dangers the weather posed are also taken care of. However, that is not the case, underscores Prof Anwar.
“We need to see weather through two lens: heatwaves and the sustained heat phenomenon. It means that extreme heat could persist even when the heatwave has passed.”
She said that the government has failed to create much-needed awareness regarding the heat index.
Prof Anwar said that the current power outages, which has resulted in loadshedding of up to 12 hours in countries across Pakistan, is worsening the situation.
“There is constant mental pressure [due to the heat and outages] on the people. Their bodies and mental capacities are at breaking point,” she said.