The Supreme Court (SC) sought on Wednesday comments from the provincial chief secretary, the local government secretary and North Sindh Urban Services Corporation (NSUSC) director-general, regarding failure of the organisation in providing basic necessities in eight districts of the province.
A two-judge bench, comprising justices Amir Hani Muslim and Faisal Arab, was hearing a petition seeking provision of clean drinking water and safe environment to the people of Sindh, at the SC’s Karachi Registry. Lawyer Shahab Osto had taken the provincial chief secretary, secretaries of the local government, health and development departments, the NSUSC managing director and others to the court, alleging that the corporation had failed to deliver, despite its establishment.
The petitioner, who claimed to be a permanent resident of District Shikarpur, told the judges that the Sindh government had created the NSUSC somewhere in 2009-2010. The corporation was required to deliver sustainable water supply, sewerage and solid waste services in a safe, efficient and effective manner in eight districts of upper Sindh. These districts included Sukkur, New Sukkur, Rohri, Khairpur, Larkana, Shikarpur, Jacobabad and Ghotki.
Osto contended that the NSUSC was created by obtaining a loan of $500 million from the Asian Development Bank, but the same has not benefited the public in these districts. Instead, the subsoil water was further contaminated, he added. The provincial government had failed to provide drinking water to the public at large in upper and lower parts of the province, said Osto, adding that the subsoil water, which the locals had to consume, is contaminated and not fit for human consumption.
In the order, the judges observed that the issue raised is a question of public importance, which has direct nexus with the fundamental rights of the residents of Sindh living not only in eight districts but also in lower Sindh. They further observed that according to the petitioner, the issues relate to violation of fundamental rights of residents of Shikarpur and Sindh, violation of the doctrine of public trust, degradation of environment, conserving underground water, supplying clean water to the citizens, providing an efficient sanitation and solid waste material disposal management to residents of Sindh.
The issues, they observed, also include protection of public life and atmosphere from the irreversible effects of contamination of underground water, failure of discharging statutory and constitutional duties and functions to provide citizens with their fundamental rights to receive water and to live in a healthy environment.
While issuing notices to the respondents as well as the advocate-general, the SC bench directed them to file their detailed concise statements. “The NSUSC managing director, provincial chief secretary and local government secretary shall be in attendance on the next date with their replies as the issues raised have direct bearing on the health of hundreds of thousands of citizens of Sindh,” the judges ordered, fixing the next hearing on December 27.
Source: The Express Tribune
Byline: Naeem Sahoutara
December 22, 2016