KARACHI: The judicial commission ordered on Saturday testing of the quality of water being supplied to people in public places from various water sources across the province.
Justice Muhammad Iqbal Kalhoro of the Sindh High Court [SHC] gave this direction while heading a Supreme Court-appointed [SC] commission to investigate the provincial authorities’ failure to provide potable water and maintain sanitation conditions in Sindh.
In order to check the quality of drinking water being provided to the people of Sindh from various sources, including rivers, canals, reverse osmosis plants and water supply schemes, the commission directed Dr Ghulam Murtaza, a member of the task force, to take water samples at his convenience from all such resources and public places, such as hospitals and schools, for testing. He was directed to submit a report to the commission within a month.
The deputy attorney general assured the commission that he will submit a report on whether or not the Rangers were patrolling the designated area of the Malir River in compliance with the commission’s May 5 order. The patrolling was to halt the illegal lifting of sand from the riverbed.
Commission unhappy with KWSB
Justice Kalhoro observed that the managing director and deputy managing director of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board [KWSB] have not been able to satisfy the commission as to why the Treatment Plant-I and II had not been made functional in compliance with the SC’s March 16 order.
They claimed the quantity of chlorinated water supplied has been increased from 250 million gallons per day [MGD] to 330 MGD. However, they admitted that the chlorinated water is mixed with the remaining water before it is supplied to people. They maintained that the rehabilitation process at all filtration plants was in full swing, adding that within a short span of time they will be able to achieve complete chlorination and filtration of water.
The commission directed the KWSB managing director to submit a report regarding the mode of obtaining water from the hydrants. He was also directed to submit a report as to why the recommendations of the commission, in respect to laying a new water distribution system and revamping the old one, have not been complied with.
A chief engineer of KWSB’s KD-Civil-II moved an application to provide security to protect the board’s reserved land at the high service reservoir on main Karsaz Road. The commission issued a notice to the provincial advocate general to file a report in this regard by June 3.
Earlier, the federal secretary for planning and development, Shoaib Siddiqui, informed the court that a meeting of all the stakeholders was held on May 11 to re-consider construction work on the Right Bank Outfall Drain, the development of the S-III project and implementation of a proposal to install five effluent treatment plants in Karachi. However, he said, the final decision could not be taken. He assured that within two weeks some tangible progress will be made on these issues and a report will be filed to the commission.
The secretary said that deliberations on the K-IV project, to provide additional water to Karachi, had taken place between the prime minister and chief minister. The project is likely to be constructed very soon, he maintained. Since he did not file a report in writing nor did he file the minutes of the meeting, the commission directed him to submit the same within three days, so that further orders can be passed.
The provincial chief secretary said that the timeline given by the SC for implementation on the apex court’s directions had been complied with, adding that only the requisite notifications to give them effect had to be issued. He sought three-days’ time to file a compliance report along with requisite notifications.
The chairperson of the task force said the proposal made by Kalri Baghar Aijaz Executive Engineer Ahmed Qureshi, regarding treatment of the industrial effluent at Darya Khan pumping station, has been found feasible and can be executed within 20 weeks, provided the funds are made available by the Water and Sanitation Authority (WASA) Hyderabad. The authority’s managing director sought time to apprise the commission about when he will execute the said proposal.
The provincial health secretary filed a report stating that incinerators had not yet been installed at the public hospitals. However, he confirmed that the process for the same was in place and will be finalised soon.
Regarding the private hospitals and laboratories, he assured that steps will be taken to ensure the Hospital Waste Management Rules, 2014 are being followed. In order to check compliance of the rules, the secretary said he will constitute a committee with a mandate to inspect periodically all such laboratories and hospitals and submit reports.