KARACHI: The judicial commission directed on Tuesday the heads of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), cantonment boards, Defense Housing Authority (DHA) and others to submit detailed reports regarding lifting of solid waste in their areas.
Justice (retd) Amir Hani Muslim gave these directives while heading a commission, appointed by the Supreme Court, to probe into failure of the provincial authorities in providing clean drinking water and improve sanitation conditions in Sindh.
At the outset, the commission expressed its dissatisfaction with the report about the work on the rehabilitation of water filtration and sewerage treatment plants submitted by the managing directors (MDs) of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) and Hyderabad's Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa).
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Justice Muslim directed them to take steps for the rehabilitation of the non-functional treatment and filtration plants immediately. However, the commission stopped them from hiring services of consultants for installation of the new plants.
He noted that the existing non-functional plants could be put back into order by spending the money already allocated in the budget, thus there was no need to allocate an additional amount of Rs300 million, as demanded by the MDs.
The commission expressed its displeasure over the absence of the provincial chief secretary and planning and development commission secretary, who were immediately called.
Planning and Development Commission Secretary Waseem Ahmed assured that the schemes devised by the KWSB will be approved within five days of their submission.
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The commission sought a complete list of the schemes from KWSB MD Syed Hashim Raza Zaidi, who sought two weeks time to do the same. He was allowed one week to do the needful.
The commission observed that the process of appointment of consultants for the schemes would take time, but Chief Secretary Muhammad Rizwan Memon said that the government itself had consultants available.
He also filed a report, which stated that the government had appointed new project directors for treatment plant-I and III and the K-IV water supply project.
The commission directed the authorities concerned to immediately provide the entire record relating to TP-I, TP-III and K-IV projects to the new project directors so that work on them could be initiated at the earliest.
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It also directed the planning and development commission to supervise work to ensure quality and monitoring of the schemes.
Justice Muslim observed that no visible improvement had been seen towards lifting garbage in the metropolis.
A lawyer, representing the cantonment board, said that garbage was being properly lifted within its limits and dumped in Surjani Town.
However, Justice Muslim said that during his recent visits to different parts of the city, he himself had seen garbage dumped unattended.
He came down hard on the cantonment boards' chief executive officer (CEO) for being absent during the proceedings despite issuance of notice.
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He inquired why the cantonment boards were not supplying clean drinking water to the residents.
The lawyer said that it was mandatory for new residential and commercial projects to have a water filtration plant.
The commission noted that the cantonment boards had no right over the sub-soil water and asked how they had approved installation of the plants.
It asked why solid waste was being dumped into the storm water drain, Nehar-e-Khayam. The lawyer said it was the responsibility of the private contractors to ensure proper disposal of garbage.
The commission issued notices to the CEOs of all the cantonment boards, the mayor, municipal commissioner, KMC, Karachi Port Trust chairperson, DHA administrator and all the district municipal corporations to submit a detailed report regarding availability of the sewerage system and lifting and dumping of solid waste in their limits.
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The commission expressed its annoyance over transfers of the project to the town municipal administration (TMA) and remarked that the same get delayed following transfer to the TMAs despite spending huge funds.
It directed the chief secretary, Memon, to look into the matter relating to transfer of the development schemes to the TMAs and submit a report in this regard.
The Sindh Environmental Protection Agency's (Sepa) director-general (DG) filed a report suggesting that notices had been issued to 450 industrial units over violation of environmental laws. Action has also been taken against 27 industries, he added.
The DG disclosed that none of the 1,000 industrial units operating across the province had any plant installed for the treatment of toxic and poisonous industrial discharge.
Looking at the situation, the commission directed the chief secretary to take steps to strengthen the environment department.
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The DG said that Sepa had 430 employees in Karachi.
The commission observed that the employees, who had been appointed without meeting merits, should be dismissed at the earliest to ensure proper and efficient working of the department.
It directed the chief secretary to examine all the appointments made in the environment department and submit a report in this regard within one week.
Hospitals' waste and drinking water
Justice Muslim told the provincial health secretary that a very sorry state of cleanliness was observed during the recent inspections of the public hospitals in Karachi.
He said the rules were not being followed for the disposal of medical waste by the management of health facilities.
Referring to his visit, Justice Muslim said medical waste was seen dumped in the adjoining streets of the Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital, Karachi.
Health Secretary Fazlullah Pechuho admitted to these facts and undertook that the conditions will be improved.
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He said that the incinerators and other machines were being imported from Italy.
The commission noted that a water filter plant installed by a non-governmental organisation in Civil hospital was lying non-functional for the last two years. It added that potable water was not available to the prisoners admitted to the jail ward.
The commission ordered the health secretary to ensure incinerators were installed and made fully functional as soon as possible. It further ordered him to improve conditions at Civil hospital and Lyari General Hospital.
It directed the health secretary to submit a complete list of the medical superintendents (MS), who had also been given charge of project directors of different projects at the government hospitals.
The commission directed the chief secretary to withdraw the charge of project directors from all the MSs. It also issued notices to the MSs of Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, Civil hospitals and Lyari General Hosital following a report which showed 78% potable water being provided at these public health facilities was unfit for human consumption.
They were told to ensure supply of potable water at their respective hospitals and submit compliance reports to the commission.
The commission directed the health secretary to submit a work plan regarding supply of clean drinking water at hospitals. It ordered Pechuho to ensure the public were allowed to use the toilets free of charge at hospitals.
Further hearing was adjourned till February 16.