KARACHI: The judicial commission directed on Monday the federal and provincial authorities to expedite the pace of work on two major schemes - the S-III and K-IV - to supply additional water to Karachi.
In the meantime, it also restrained the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) from approving new housing schemes without no-objection certificates (NOC) issued by the civic agencies regarding availability of basic amenities such as drinking water supply and proper drainage system.
Justice (retd) Amir Hani Muslim, who heads the Supreme Court-appointed judicial commission on water and sanitation conditions in Sindh, passed these directives.
At the outset of the hearing, Federal Finance Minister Arif Shah informed the commission that the Centre was ready to release the required funds promised by them for the K-IV project. However, he accused the Sindh government of blaming the federal government for its own failures.
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Justice (retd) Muslim observed that the trust deficit between the federal and provincial governments must come to an end in order for the project to be executed in the stipulated time period.
The federal planning and development commission's secretary, Shoaib Siddiqui, maintained that coordination between the Centre and provincial government on the issue of water projects in Sindh had improved. However, he said the federal government could provide the requisite funds for the K-IV project, as promised, if the provincial government could ensure its completion within the stipulated timeframe, which was fixed in June, 2018.
A representative of the consultancy company engaged for the K-IV project informed the commission that the project had been delayed as a quota could not be fixed for Karachi in the water to be supplied through this project.
He said that the project would provide 260 million gallons of water per day to the city, which would be a 40% addition to its current capacity.
The representative said the government had failed to find suitable land for the project till date.
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To the commission's query, the chairperson of the provincial planning commission, Mohammad Waseem, suggested that the deputy commissioner of Malir may be asked about the land issue.
The commission took serious notice of the Malir DC’s absence, who had failed to appear despite the issuance of a notice and directive.
Justice (retd) Muslim told Waseem that he was complaining about the federal government while the provincial authorities were not doing the work on their part.
Colonel Hasan, a representative of the Frontier Works Organisation, said they were given possession of the land for the project after a delay of one year. The commission noted that the officers were placing the blame on each other and told all of them that someone will have to take responsibility.
The commission asked why the Malir DC, who was responsible for causing damage to the project, was still working on the same post.
The consultant company's representative informed the commission that the land for the Pak-Iran Pipeline project was also coming in the way of the K-IV project. The commission remarked that it may direct NESPAK to conduct a fresh survey of the land along the K-IV project to determine the factual position.
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A lawyer representing the K-IV project said cases involving litigation over land coming in the water supply project were pending in court.
The commission directed the authorities concerned to ensure that no connection will be given to anyone from the K-IV project. The commission summoned Chief Secretary Muhammad Rizwan Memon to explain the Malir DC’s absence.
Later, Memon appeared and informed Justice (retd) Muslim that the Sindh government had provided funds worth billions to the DC for the project. The commission directed the chief secretary to transfer the incumbent DC and ensure a competent officer was posted in his place. Justice (retd) Muslim also warned that he would write to the Supreme Court if the government failed to remove the officer.
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The commission inquired from the provincial authorities as to why the S-III project had not yet been completed despite a lapse of 11 years since its announcement.
Waseem explained that the federal government was responsible for the delays, as it had released only half of the promised funds for the project. Siddiqui said the Centre was ready to release Rs3.16 billion for the K-IV project.
Refuting the provincial planning commission chairperson's claim regarding non-provision of funds by the federal government, Siddiqui alleged that funds were released as promised to the Sindh government, which in turn had failed to get the work done as promised in the agreement.
The commission directed the provincial planning commission and other authorities to issue an official notification regarding the master plan for Karachi city within one week.