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Judicial commission orders report on mechanism of water testing

The judicial commission investigating non-provision of potable water, sanitation and healthy environment to Sindh has ordered a report on the mechanism of testing water samples collected from reverse-osmosis (RO) plants in the province.

Headed by Justice Mohammad Iqbal Kalhoro, the judicial body recorded statements on Tuesday of the energy department secretary and the Sindh Coal Authority (SCA) director general in connection with installation of RO plants.

Secretary Agha Wasif said the SCA had entered an agreement with a private company, Pak Oasis, as regards installation of RO plants and was paying for the plants’ operation and maintenance on the basis of production and supply of water.

DG Danish Saeed said 118 RO plants were installed across Sindh under the agreement with the private firm, adding that a big plant of 2mgd capacity was set up in Mithi and another of 1.5mgd capacity in Islamkot, while the others were small plants.

He added that the company was being paid Rs160 per 1,000 gallons for the big plants and Rs0.14 per gallon for the small ones. Replying to a query as to how the water being produced and supplied was measured, he said he did not know and sought time to submit a relevant report.

He, however, admitted that there was no measuring meter to gauge the exact volume of production and supply at the RO plants, adding that water samples were sent to the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) for quality tests.

The judicial commission directed the SCA DG to submit a report on the mechanism of collecting and testing water samples.

Meanwhile, Additional Attorney General Salman Talibuddin filed a report on disposal of hospital waste by the health facilities running under the federal government.

A day earlier, the judicial body had demanded records spanning the past five years of the RO plants.

Special Initiatives Department (SID) Secretary Ejaz Ahmed Khan said they had installed only small RO plants and that the bigger ones were set up by the energy department.

He admitted that there was no laboratory to check the quality of water at any of the RO plants. Responding to a query, he was unable to assure the commission of any sort of inspection to ascertain the quality of water.

He was also unsure if the amount being paid to Pak Oasis was ever audited, and sought time to compile the record of all the relevant details, including a copy of the agreement between the SID and the private company and the names of the project directors.

SID Project Director Nafees Ahmed Sheikh told the commission that 500 RO plants were installed in the first phase, during which Rs10,800 were paid for maintenance of every plant.

He added that 1,400 RO plants were installed in the second and third phases, for which Rs26,000 and Rs31,000 were being paid respectively to a private firm for maintenance of every plant.

He said the field officers of his department prepared a report on each RO plant, on the basis of which the charges were being paid to the company. He, however, could not produce any such report and sought time to do the same.

The judicial commission directed the director general (audit) to submit a five-year report in respect of funds released for installation, operation and maintenance of the RO plants operating in different districts of the province.

Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) Secretary Tameezuddin Khero told the judicial body that the filter plant in Umerkot was not functional due to lack of proper wire for the relevant transformer by the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (Hesco).

The Hesco superintendent assured the commission that proper electric wire with the requisite gauge would be provided for making the filter plant operational.

He also gave the assurance that all the power connections would be activated on the applications submitted by the PHED for the schemes of water supply and sanitation, against which demand notices had been deposited.

Reporter. Judicial commission orders report on mechanism of water testing. The News, February 15, 2017.

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