KARACHI: A judicial commission appointed by the apex court has called for opening an investigation against Sindh government officials for their failure to provide potable water and improve sanitation conditions under the multi-billion development schemes launched five years earlier, it was learnt on Monday.
The Supreme Court (SC) appointed the commission to probe the allegations of non-supply of clean drinking water, deteriorating sanitation conditions and its impact on the environment in Sindh.
The inquiry report, available with The Express Tribune, revealed that the relevant provincial authorities had failed to provide clean drinking water, save water sources from pollution, stop discharge of hazardous sewerage effluent and toxic industrial waste into the water channels and properly dispose of solid and toxic hospital wastes.
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Justice Muhammad Iqbal Kalhoro of the Sindh High Court (SHC), who headed the inquiry, observed that all the reports of the district and sessions judges had revealed that despite the expenditure of billions of rupees over the last five years on schemes of water supply and sanitation, many of them were lying non-functional and even from functional schemes no tangible result improving provision of potable water and sanitation was being achieved.
“Directions may be ordered to launch an investigation into the finances incurred on all such schemes,” the inquiry commissioner recommended to the SC.
In major cities like Karachi and Hyderabad, water shortage had multiplied due to illegal water hydrants, water theft, illegal connections and construction of high-rise buildings without expanding civic infrastructure.
It said even polluted water being supplied to the people for drinking water was gradually getting scarce, thanks to leakages in main transmission routes; water theft and lack of a system to monitor it; poor performance of outdated and inefficient pumping stations; water tanker mafia and illegal hydrants; mushroom growth of vertical buildings; old and rusted distribution system of water supply and inefficiency of officials of civic agencies and deliberate mismanagement in water distribution.
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The inquiry commission noted, “Sanitation to keep us safe is notably absent because it seems to be a lost priority of the Sindh government. In some posh areas of big cities, some semblance of sanitation is being maintained but that is done against heavy cost and taxes. However, in the rest of the localities of big cities sanitation condition is deplorable as it is in relatively small cities, where sewerage, garbage, puddles and dirt seem to be a permanent feature of the roads and streets.”
The commission found that the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency lacked organisational structure, as it was mostly concentrated in Karachi, and recommended strengthening and expanding its scope to the district levels for good results in environment related issues. It also found there were outstanding bills in respect of water, sanitation charges against government departments.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2017.