KARACHI: Several members of the Sindh Assembly lashed out against the illegal hydrants formed on water lines during the session on Tuesday.
The session started at 11:40 am and was presided over by MPA Sikandar Mandhro, one of the presiding officers nominated to chair the session as the speaker and his deputy were both not present in the House. The provincial ministers alleged that police and lawenforcement agencies were backing the hundreds of illegal hydrants established on main water lines in the city. Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s MPA Nishat Muhammad Zia Qadri moved a private resolution to impose a ban with a heavy penalty and punishment against people involved in it.
Some members also complained that officials of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) have been receiving bribes and giving permission to establish illegal hydrants. They said that in most areas, people making encroachments on the main lines have built houses, cabins and shops as well as they are being patronised by political parties. “We demand legislation on this sensitive issue as no area is excluded from this menace,” said Qadri.
He also quoted particular cases in which officials of the KWSB came under attack by the guards of these hydrants yet the police remain uncooperative. The vice-chairperson of the KWSB, Haji Munawwar Ali Abbasi, said that the issue of illegal hydrants has lingered on due to a lack of political will. “The owners of hydrants earn millions of rupees,” he said, “We have written a lot of letters to the home department, Pakistan Rangers and DIGs but none of them have given heed to this issue.”
Minister for Jails Haji Muzaffar Ali Shujra blamed the tanker mafia for being involved in this business, adding that they are not only minting money but are all also supplying contaminated water to residents. “Officials at the KWSB receive up to Rs50,000 to Rs60,000 as their commission for the illegal business,” he said. According to Shujra, these hydrants are situated in Korangi, Landhi, Mansehra Colony, Bilal Colony, Sharafi Goth, Gul Mohammed Goth, Liaquatabad and Manghopir.
Millions of rupees have been spent on the roads that were damaged due to the construction of these hydrants, he added. “Some people have also dug up a well near the main water lines in Korangi and they sell that water to donkey carts,” claimed Shujra, adding that he has informed the KWSB but all in vain. Amanullah Masood of the Awami National Party said that a committee must be constituted to get rid of this situation. Minister for Local Government Agha Siraj Durrani said that since the KWSB is running without a chairman the monitoring of the organisation has become difficult.
He alleged that the water board has been following a discriminatory policy by neglecting suburban areas, such as Malir, Bin Qasim, Gadap and Keamari, where people struggle to get water. “I don’t want to open a Pandora’s box but I can say that there is a dire need to rehabilitate the KWSB,” he asserted. He assured that strict action would be taken against the offenders after a meeting with the home department, after which Qadri withdrew the resolution.
Renaming medical college Pakistan Muslim League- Quaid’s Shahryar Maher said that the government was creating wrong precedents by changing the name of colleges and locations, referring to the renaming of Ghulam Muhammad Maher Medical College. Maher insisted that this practice should be condemned. ‘Evidence against 7 ex- nazims found’ Sindh Minister for Local Bodies Agha Siraj Durrani said an investigation into corruption cases against former district nazims was underway and evidence against seven nazims had been obtained. Talking to the media before the Sindh Assembly session on Tuesday, he said action will be taken soon against the guilty nazims. He said that legislation on the new local government system would be completed soon and after that, the elections would be conducted within 90 days.
The meeting of the core committee would be summoned after MQM MNA Dr Farooq Sattar returned from a foreign trip. The Sindh Building Control Amendment Bill 2009 was not withdrawn on Monday but was delayed. According to Durrani, there is no law about the city nazim being appointed the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) chairman. “The nazim was appointed the KWSB chairman, thanks to Musharraf,” he told PPI news agency. During the session most of the private bills, motions and resolution could not be moved due to the absence of the House’s members. The speaker adjourned the session till Wednesday at 9:30 am.
One out of 31 women MPAs present
Out of the 31 women provincial ministers in the Sindh Assembly, MPA Shazia Marri was the only one present in the session on Tuesday. General attendance was also thin as more than 50 per cent of members were absent. Except for Nusrat Sehar Abbasi, all the female ministers took leave without filing any application. Secretary Hadi Bux Buriro told The Express Tribune that provincial ministers are not legally bound to submit a leave application. “If any member remains absent for 40 days then it is against the law,” he said. Buriro added that most of the female ministers were in Islamabad to attend the National Women Parliamentarians Convention.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 26th, 2010.