Commission irked over non-submission of work plans

Justice (retd) Muslim warns of referring matter to SC for ‘willful defiance’ if plans not submitted

Our Correspondent February 01, 2018
Schoolgirls cross a sewage filled street in Hyderabad's Rehman Town. PHOTO: ONLINE

KARACHI: The judicial commission allowed on Wednesday two extra days to the provincial officers concerned to submit the work plan for completion of water supply schemes in the province.

Justice (retd) Amir Hani Muslim, the commission’s head, also warned of referring the matter to the Supreme Court for appropriate action against the officials responsible for willful defiance of the commission’s directives if they failed to do so by February 2. Appointed by the SC, the commission is investigating the authorities’ failure to supply clean drinking water and improve deteriorating sanitation conditions in Sindh.

On the last hearing, the commission had once again directed the provincial chief secretary to ensure a work plan for completion of schemes to supply potable drinking water by the departments and agencies concerned.

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On Wednesday, the managing director of the Water and Sanitation Authority, Hyderabad, Masood Ahmed Jumani, submitted a work plan reflecting rehabilitation and sewerage schemes in Hyderabad.

However, the commission pointed out that the work plan required breakup of the components with a timeline and directed the MD to submit the breakup by Thursday in consultation with the taskforce chairperson.

Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) Managing Director Syed Hashim Raza Zaidi also submitted a work plan of Treatment Plant-I and III, but did not submit the work plan for the filtration plants.

Justice (retd) Muslim said the treatment plants’ work plan was an eyewash, as it did not contain the breakup and required timeline for the components to be installed.

The commission recorded its displeasure on the working of the water utility, as the water filtration plants, which were non-functional for a year, had not been rehabilitated and no action had been taken by the MD against the persons responsible for this.

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Justice (retd) Muslim recalled that the commission had directed the officer to submit the work plan, but despite the directions, it has not been complied with and no plausible explanation has been offered by the KWSB MD.

The provincial public health engineering department also failed to submit any work plan for the completion of water supply schemes.

The commission was informed that the secretary was under transfer. Justice (retd) Muslim said that may be a reason justifying delay in filing the work plan, but such a delay cannot be allowed to be inordinate.

“For these compelling reasons, the commission is constrained to grant time at the request of the chairperson of planning and development to day after tomorrow [February 2],” said the commission head.

He warned the officers that if the directions were not complied with, the matter may be referred to the SC for appropriate action against the officials who were responsible for willful defiance of the directions of the commission causing delay in achieving the target. The hearing was adjourned till tomorrow (Friday).

Justice (retd) Muslim also visited different places along the Lyari River where industrial effluent is being discharged into the sea without treatment.

The commission directed the West district and sessions judge to depute a judicial magistrate to inspect the industrial units who along with senior officers of Sindh Environmental Protection Agency and SITE.

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The magistrate will submit a report as to whether or not the industrial units producing toxic effluent had any pre-treatment plants or septic tanks and whether they were functional or not.

The judicial officer will submit such report with the commission’s registrar within seven days.

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