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Government officials get show-cause notices over water and sewerage woes

Judicial body asks why contempt-of-court proceedings should not be initiated against them; orders appearance before commission on July 1

Government officials have been issued show-cause notices for failing to comply with the top court’s orders to resolve the water and sewerage issues of Sindh.

Issuing the notices to the irrigation, health and local government secretaries, the Karachi Water & Sewerage Board (KWSB) chief and others on Saturday, the judicial commission on water and sanitation asked them why contempt-of-court proceedings should not be initiated against them.

The judicial body headed by Justice Mohammad Iqbal Kalhoro took exception to non-compliance of the Supreme Court’s directives regarding rehabilitation of filtration and sewage treatments plants in the city and testing the effluent produced by industries and found at the Karachi harbour.

The commission said that no substantial progress had been made by the managing directors of the Sindh Industrial Trading Estate (SITE) and the KWSB to comply with the directives with regard to rehabilitation of filtration and treatment plants and discharge of effluents from industries.

The body said the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) and the KWSB had failed to take measures to prevent pollution at the harbour in accordance with the SC’s directives.

Kalhoro said government functionaries, including the LG and the KWSB, had failed to comply with the top court’s orders about functioning of water filtration plants and sewage treatment plants TP-I and TP-III in the metropolis.

The commission said the health secretary had failed to rehabilitate and activate all the incinerators installed at government hospitals across the province, adding that the failure apparently amounted to defying the SC’s directives.

Taking exception to the performance of the relevant task force, the body said that although various reports had been submitted, the court’s orders had not been complied with and no action showed any improvement in the quality of water being provided to the people of the province.

Kalhoro said sanitation and other issues in accordance with the SC’s orders and the judicial commission’s recommendations had not been resolved, which amounted to defiance of the directives issued to the government officials.

The commission said the relevant task force did not seem to take any measures to stop the direct discharge of effluents in irrigation channels and arteries.

The body said the public health engineering & rural development secretary had not submitted any report proving that his department had undertaken the responsibility of installing and maintaining all the reverse-osmosis plants in the province.

Regarding the dissolution of the North Sindh Urban Services Corporation and the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board, Kalhoro said the chief secretary had not submitted any report stating if the SC had issued a stay order on the provincial government’s review application against the court’s directives.

The commission said the task force chairman, the health secretary, the KWSB MD, the SITE MD, the LG secretary, the public health engineering secretary, the Karachi Port Trust chairman and others had not complied with the top court’s March 16 orders.

The body issued show-cause notices to the officials to explain why proceedings of wilful contempt of court should not be initiated against them and ordered them to appear before the commission on July 1.

Task Force Chairman Jamal Mustafa Syed had earlier submitted a detailed report with regard to the mode and manner of and the scheme being executed at each water hydrant.

He said water hydrants were not being run quite methodically and there was a dearth of rules and regulations leading to arbitrary decision-making often resulting in mismanagement and bad practice.

Kalhoro said the task force’s report was quite alarming because it clearly demonstrated that water distribution from hydrants was like a blind alley and no exact figures relating to the issues identified in the report were available.

The commission said water supply from hydrants was not being processed in accordance with any standard operating procedure, rules or regulations and the practice was merely dependent on the discretion of the management, which was deciding distribution of water and other matters.

The body said that such practices resulted in mismanagement and malpractice, rendering the water distribution system ineffective and, thus, giving rise to man-made scarcity of potable water for Karachi’s people.

Kalhoro expressed surprise that execution of water hydrants and supply of water through tankers had been under way for the past 15 or so years and so far the provincial government had not made any effort to frame rules or regulations or enact a law to regulate the distribution and address other relevant issues.

The Sindh advocate general said the KWSB chief would propose some rules or suggestions in this regard and the provincial administration would mull over them before enacting a relevant law encompassing the entire issue.

The commission ordered the Sindh government to enact a comprehensive law as regards running of water hydrants, distribution of water and other relevant issues within a month and submit a compliance report.

On the subjects of the Right Bank Outfall Drain (RBOD), combined effluent treatment plants and the S-III Greater Karachi Sewage Treatment Plan, the body said the federal and provincial governments had failed to sort out their differences over resuming construction of the RBOD-II, deemed an important scheme to deal with the saline water of the province.

Kalhoro issued a notice to the AG and the additional AG to assist the judicial commission in ascertaining why the body should not immediately order resuming work on the RBOD-II.

When the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency chief told the commission that the agency’s laboratory was now functional, the body directed Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources senior research officer Dr Ghulam Murtaza to inspect the facility and submit a report.

Meanwhile, Kalhoro dismissed the application of the Association of Builders & Developers challenging the ban on the construction of high-rises in the city as not maintainable.

Khurshid, Jamal. Government officials get show-cause notices over water and sewerage woes. The News, June 19, 2017.

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