KARACHI: The judicial commission on water and sanitation ordered on Tuesday the cancellation of all the approvals granted to housing schemes in Hyderabad.
Justice (retd) Amir Hani Muslim, the commission’s head, also directed that any new approval for a housing scheme would be conditional to the no objection certificates (NOCs) from civic institutions. The commission ordered work to be stopped on housing schemes that were initiated without the NOCs of civic institutions.
The commission’s proceedings took place at the Sindh High Court. Responding to the commission’s question regarding the road along Nehr-e-Khayyam, Mayor Wasim Akhtar said the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) could not complete the road as it was waiting for the laying down of a new water line for which tenders would be invited.
Justice (retd) Muslim expressed his displeasure when the KMC chief engineer informed the commission that the tenders would be invited soon. “You have been fooling the commission for the last month and you seem more interested in Nehr-e-Khayyam than the road,” Justice (retd) Muslim said.
The local government secretary said the mayor had alleged that he had been facing hurdles in the way of constructing the road. The secretary added that on the commission’s orders, the government allowed the construction of the road and facilitated the mayor.
The commission remarked that a non-governmental organisation (NGO) had undertaken to carry out beautification of the city. “If the KMC carried out that work, what work would be left for the NGO?” the commission questioned.
Regarding the cleaning of Karachi’s nullahs, the chief secretary informed the commission that the government would provide the KMC Rs500 million by today (Wednesday). He added that work on Gujjar nullah and other schemes were also being transferred to the KMC.
The commission directed that the schemes of nullahs that were under the Karachi Development Authority be transferred to the Sindh government. It also ordered the mayor to start the cleaning of the nullahs immediately.
There shall be no compromise on the quality of work on the cleaning of nullahs, Justice (retd) Muslim said, adding that the National Engineering Services Pakistan would be asked to check the quality.
The commission rebuked the project director for not preparing the PC-II in two years. The project director informed the commission that Pachar nullah was 12,000 feet (ft) long, of which, the length of around 6,000ft had been encroached upon. The commission remarked that the project director should have removed the encroachments.
Justice (retd) Muslim admonished the authorities for not ensuring cleanliness along the nullah. There is nothing except heaps of garbage along the nullah, he said. Only God is the saviour if this is the level of cleanliness, he told the mayor.
Regarding reports which claimed that the area along the nullah was clean, the commission remarked whether such reports were correct or their observations. The project director argued that people were constantly throwing trash due to which garbage was accumulated.
Were officers sleeping when markets were being constructed on the nullah, the judicial commission asked. The commission asked a KMC officer why Project Director Zafar Baloch did not appear for the hearing despite that he was summoned. The commission was informed that he was on vacation.
Addressing the mayor, Justice (retd) Muslim remarked that his officers did not speak the truth in front of the commission.
A KMC director informed the commission that Rs306 million had been released to clean 6,000 feet of nullahs, of which cleaning of 5,600 had been completed. Justice (retd) Muslim remarked that he had visited the site and there was no cleanliness over there. The commission will take the Karachi mayor along and visit the nullahs, he said.
The Karachi Water and Sewerage Board managing director explained that steps had been initiated to stop water theft. The commission head observed that no one could use underground water without permission.
Petitioner Mujahid Baloch argued that daily around 400,000 to 500,000 gallons of water were stolen. Through wells, freshwater was being stolen, he claimed. The petitioner adopted the stance that police and other institutions were involved in this activity. The local government secretary admitted that water theft was taking place on a large scale. He informed the commission that legislation was under way to regulate the use of underground water.
The commission censured the authorities concerned for not setting up treatment plants in industrial areas. Justice (retd) Muslim remarked that it happened nowhere in the world that industrialists did nothing for the environment. The industrialists cannot stand near the place where industrial effluent flows, he said.
A lawyer representing the Sindh Industrial Trading Estate Association informed the commission that the association was willing to comply with the commission’s orders. The commission asked the counsel to inform his clients that they would face consequences if they did not follow the commission’s orders.
The lawyer remarked that it was a moral responsibility of the industrialists to comply with the commission’s orders, to which Justice (retd) Muslim observed that had the industrialists realised their responsibility, the issued would have been resolved earlier.
The commission sought a report on the cleaning of canals and installation of treatment plants in industrial areas on April 23.