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Complying with SC orders, Sindh doubles water, sanitation budget

In Sindh, where a Supreme Court-appointed judicial commission is conducting proceedings to monitor and ensure execution of incomplete development schemes meant to supply clean drinking water and improve sanitation conditions, the second consecutive Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led government plans to increase spending on these facilities twofold by increasing the budgetary allocation by 114%.

The statistics of the election-budget, which was announced on Monday, suggested Rs11.76 billion has been allocated for development schemes meant to improve provision of clean drinking water and sanitation in the province in the fiscal year 2017-18. This amount is a 114% increase over the current year’s allocation of Rs5.50 billion.

Foreign financial assistance of Rs300 million increases the government’s allocation by 2.5%, raising the total amount spent on sanitation and clean drinking water schemes to Rs12 billion.

The PPP-led Sindh government faced an embarrassing situation when a resident of district Shikarpur moved the Supreme Court seeking provision of basic amenities like clean drinking water and sanitation in the province. Almost all development projects relating to water and sanitation remained incomplete in the province even by the middle of the PPP’s second consecutive tenure.

In the 2017-18 fiscal year the government plans to spend this sum on 148 projects. There are 98 new schemes but 50 of these were planned years earlier but never completed. Thirteen schemes are for the revamp and repair of the sewerage pumping stations, sewage treatment, water filtration plants, upgrade of the sewerage system and others in Karachi, Hyderabad and other cities.

For the desert region of district Tharparkar, two new schemes have been introduced; one to lay a water supply pipeline from Bhotio village to Milkana in the Chachro taluka and the other to supply water from Doongri to Bhansar to be operated on solar energy. The cost for these schemes is estimated at Rs32.52 million.

The Supreme Court had, in December last year, constituted a judicial commission to investigate the authorities’ failure to provide potable drinking water and improve sanitation across the province.

The inquiry commission, headed by a sitting Sindh High Court judge, Justice Muhammad Iqbal Kalhoro, had ordered a province-wide inspection of water and sanitation schemes by the district and sessions judges to determine the actual status of the schemes. The commissioner himself had inspected various water sources to see the level of pollution, sewerage treatment and water filtration plants.

Completing the six-week long proceedings and inspections, the commission had submitted its report to the apex court, concluding that various water and sanitation-related projects had not been completed due to corruption, mismanagement and poor monitoring systems of the provincial government.

Many of those schemes, as shown in the budget documents, were supposed to be completed by June this year. However, work on most of them was not even initiated.

On the basis of the commission’s report, the Supreme Court bench had ordered the provincial government to wrap up its private entity, the North Sindh Urban Services Corporation (NSUSC), which had received millions of dollars in aid from the Asian Development Bank but had failed to deliver in the northern cities of the province.

In the upcoming fiscal year, the PPP-led provincial government plans to initiate work on those schemes and complete them.

Apart from this, there are 48 long-term projects that have been carried forward for years. One such example is the project to construct the Right Bank Outfall Drain.

Sahoutara, Naeem. Complying with SC orders, Sindh doubles water, sanitation budget. The Express Tribune, June 8, 2017.

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