SHC seeks comments from KWSB on auction of six hydrants

Association of water tanker owners wants court to restrain the auction


Our Correspondent October 13, 2017
Tankers' association claims KWSB officials demand bribes from legal hydrants. PHOTO: INP

KARACHI: Regarding the auction of six water hydrants in the city, the Sindh High Court (SHC) has sought detailed comments from the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB).

Hearing the case on Thursday, a two-judge bench, headed by Justice Munib Akhtar, sought such comments by October 30.

The matter of the hydrants' auction was taken to court by the Karachi Water Tankers Owners Welfare Association, which nominated the provincial local government department and KWSB authorities as respondents.

The association argued that the Supreme Court had restrained the local government and KWSB from auctioning the six hydrants operating in the city. It further argued that the apex court had observed that the hydrants may be auctioned to private persons, if there was a need to do so. However, in such case, the auction had to be conducted in a transparent manner in accordance with the law.

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The association informed the court that the hydrants were located in Manghopir, Sakhi Hassan, NIPA, Safoora Goth, Landhi and Sherpao Colony.

The SHC was informed that the water board had invited tenders through media advertisements on November 15, 2016. The last date for submitting bids was January 25, 2017 and the tenders were to be officially announced within a period of one month, as per the law.

The association alleged that the water board authorities remained silent for eight months regarding the tenders in violation of the law. Later, the officials quietly awarded the contracts to six of their favourite applicants unlawfully and rejected others without giving any plausible reason, the petitioner added.

The petitioner argued that such practice on the part of the water utility's management was a blatant violation of the provisions of the Sindh Public Procurement Rules, which had deprived many other applicants of their rights that have been protected under these rules as well as the Constitution.

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The court was pleaded to call records of the tender awarding procedures and proceedings from the water board. A direction was also sought for the KWSB management to ensure complete transparency in the award of the tenders for the six hydrants in question.

The SHC was informed by the association's lawyer that some influential persons had taken over the hydrants in question. The association pleaded to the court to direct the local government secretary and KWSB chief to ensure that the auction was held transparently and in accordance with the law.

Advocate Masroor Shah, who filed a power of attorney on behalf of the KWSB on Thursday, argued that the apex court had not passed any restraining order against hydrants' auction. He informed the court that the documents related to auction had been submitted to the sessions judges concerned.

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However, the lawyer requested the court to grant him time to file written comments on the matter. Approving the request, the bench granted time to Advocate Shah till October 30 to file detailed comments regarding the auction of hydrants in question.

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