Reorganising Civil Defence

Reorganising Civil Defence


Once deemed the most important body to protect citizens, Sindh’s damage control dept has been left underfunded for 20 years

Reorganising Civil Defence

An official at the Directorate of Civil Defence said that there was a control room on the premises but due to lack of funds, the structure was about to collapse. photos: Athar khan/Bol News


KARACHI: Once considered the most important department in pre-war, war and post-war situations, the Sindh Civil Defence Department has lost its significance, Bol News has learnt.

The government body once known for giving remedy during and after natural and man-made disasters, is now amongst the most neglected ones for the past 20 years.

Directorate Civil Defence Sindh in Karachi comes under the Sindh Home Department. The meagre funds given to the Civil Defence in Sindh are only consumed in salary disbursement of its staff.

Its building resembles a ‘bhoot bangla’ (House of evil spirits). The four-storeyed building is in a state of disrepair as a result of neglect. There are some houses built inside the four acres of the premises for lower staff which are now abandoned and have become ‘safe havens’ for drug users.

Many eyes are on the four acres of land of Civil Defence which is located near the old Jubilee Cinema, an area which is near the downtown Saddar, Boulton Market, Lea Market, and Garden.


The department received letters from different quarters including a few government officials that the Civil Defence was “of no use” and it “should be disbanded after the formation of the NDMA” in the centre and the Provincial Disaster Management Authorities (PDMA) in the provinces, sources claimed.

Practically, sources say that the Civil Defence has already been totally ignored for years and after the creation of the PDMA, the importance of the Civil Defence has diminished further. Besides, a major chunk of funds earlier apportioned for Civil Defence, was now allocated for the PDMA, they added.

Deputy Secretary Sindh Home Department Raziuddin said, “It’s true that the Civil Defence was ignored but since I took charge, I have been trying to give it the significance it deserves. Now the government is giving importance to the Civil Defence and a considerable amount of funds will be allocated hopefully for this institution in the upcoming fiscal year.”

It was a misconception that the PDMA was the replacement of the Civil Defence, sources in the Sindh government and Civil Defence told Bol News. They further said that PDMA did not have teams, and trained staff who could impart training to civilians. The Civil Defence did have expertise in imparting training to civilians as to how to react in case of natural or man-made disasters or in war or post war, they explained.

The training programmes were held in the past but now such sort of training programmes were being held in small numbers due to the scarcity of funds, they elaborated. “In every city, deputy commissioners were the operational controllers of Civil Defence and they were supported by deputy controllers and their staff of Civil Defence.”

They said that deputy commissioners could generate funds but they didn’t do that for Civil Defence’s programmes.


An officer in the Sindh government on condition of anonymity said that there was a proposal that the Civil Defence should be merged with the NDMA. He said that it could not be possible because the purview of Civil Defence was larger than that of NDMA which only tackled post-disaster management.

On the other hand, the role of Civil Defence was very important in pre-, during and post-war situations. It provided remedy to natural or man-made disasters and carried out surveys in commercial and industrial areas for fire safety. He also said that NDMA could be merged with Civil Defence but the vice-versa could not be possible.

Sources highlighted that a building could not be built without the survey and no-objection-certificate (NOC) issued by the Civil Defence as it had to confirm if proper fire safety measures were taken. However, obtaining the NOC from Civil Defence was not given any importance despite the fact that many letters were written and sent to authorities concerned. As a result, a lot of buildings had been constructed without fire exit or fire safety measures, the sources commented.

An official at the Directorate of Civil Defence said that there was a control room on the premises but due to lack of funds, the structure was about to collapse. In case of war, the Civil Defence did not have any arrangement to warn people by operating warning sirens.

He also said that training sessions were held on the premises but due to a lack of funds, no training was done for years on the premises. The upper floor of the main building, which also needs to be repaired, has been given to the admin section of the prison department, the officials revealed.

The officials at the Directorate of Civil Defence Sindh also said that the Civil Defence could be made functional if the government paid heed to reviving the department.

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