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SC wants hospitals’ incinerators reactivated

The Supreme Court directed the health secretary on Monday to ensure all incinerators of government hospitals were made functional within one month.

The apex court questioned the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board’s agreement with a private Chinese firm for the collection and disposal of garbage in two districts of Karachi, and sought details from the managing director of the board about the contract and its execution.

Hearing a petition seeking provision of clean drinking water and a safe environment to the citizens of Sindh, a three-member bench, headed by Justice Amir Hani Muslim, inquired Health Secretary Fazalullah Pechuho about the disposal of hospital waste in the province.

He submitted that only one incinerator was properly working in the government hospitals across the province. He held out the assurance that the incinerators would be reactivated within three months.

The court directed the health secretary to ensure that all incinerators of the government hospitals were made functional within one month and to submit a compliance report.

Chief Secretary Rizwan Memon informed the court that the irrigation secretary would be appointed in two days and the government was looking for a suitable officer to appoint as the managing director of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board. He sought time to submit a compliance report.

The court took notice of the appointment of the local government secretary as head of the committee to address issues of the functioning of water filtration plants and sewerage treatment plants — TP-I and TP-III — observing that many persons on the committee were those who had created such problems and that the judicial commission had raised questions over their performance. It said the committee was nothing but eyewash and directed the chief secretary to ensure the irrigation secretary was a member of the committee, which should have other experts as suggested by the petitioner.

The bench further asked the chief secretary to show a video on the status of the water supply and sanitation issues in the province to legislators in the Sindh Assembly so that they could become aware about the problems.

The chief secretary submitted that he had informed the chief minister about the issue and the government was working to resolve it.

The court also questioned the performance of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB), observing that board had conducted its meeting after seven years just to approve a water connection to a private builder and to consider demands of the CBA for employees’ jobs instead of resolving the water supply and sanitation issues, which, it said, was a pathetic state of affairs. The bench observed that the environmental pollution case had been pending for the last 25 years, but noting substantial had been done on the part of the government. IT said there should be some difference between government servants and a mafia.

The court inquired SITE Managing Director Abdul Aleem Lashari as to whether he had visited any factory within their jurisdiction to verify about industrial effluent. He submitted that he did not visit any factory and did not have knowledge about the industrial waste as there was no mechanism in the SITE to monitor industrial effluent. He said the environment protection agency was responsible to check and monitor industrial waste.

The court observed that industrial laws had a mechanism that provided action against the factory if it allowed the flow of untreated industrial waste into the sewerage line. It said the sanitation and industrial waste issues could not be resolved until responsible officers were sent to prison for negligence.

On tge role of the solid waste managing board in the collection and disposal of garbage, the court inquired the director general of the board as to what the role of the board was when it outsourced its functions to the Chinese firm.

The board’s director general, AD Sanjnani, submitted that board had entered into an agreement with a Chinese firm for the disposal of garbage in the South and East districts and funds would be given by the provincial government in this regard.

The court asked why staff of district municipal corporations were inducted into the board and given to the Chinese firm for working instead of using such workforce for the collection of garbage under their the DMCs, saying that there was already infrastructure in those corporations.

The DG submitted that such an exercise was also being done in Lahore through a foreign company. The court inquired whether the board had done anything for the disposal of garbage since its establishment, the MD said no progress had been made since 2014.

On the role of the north Sindh urban service, the chief secretary sought time to submit a report regarding the fate of the service.

The bench directed the Karachi Port Trust officer to undo the exercise regarding the reclamation of land for the purpose of allotment of plots to KPT officers and to ensure that harbour was restored to its original position.

It took exception to the KPT’s performance and its failure to stop the industrial waste from being released into the sea. It directed the advocate general to ensure that the lifting of Reti and Bajri from the Malir river bed was stopped immediately as per directives of the commission and to submit a compliance report.

Reporter. SC wants hospitals’ incinerators reactivated. The News, March 14, 2017.

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