KARACHI: The Supreme Court-mandated judicial commission on water and sanitation has expressed its displeasure over the delay in the completion of K-IV project which will supply 260 million gallons of water per day from the Indus River to Karachi.
During the hearing on Monday, the commission's head, Justice (retd) Amir Hani Muslim, warned the project's consultant Usmani and Co that he may refer the matter to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
"As a last chance, this matter is adjourned till July 3 and if no clear picture is provided, the commission may consider whether it is a fit case for reference to NAB or not," he stated in the order.
The groundbreaking of the project was performed in August, 2016. It was scheduled for completion in June, 2018, at the cost of Rs15.25 billion, funded jointly by the federal and Sindh governments.
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The project was to supply water through the filtration plants at Pipri, Manghopir and near Baqai University to districts Central and West, along with Landhi, Korangi, Lyari, North Karachi and their adjoining areas.
Former local government minister Jam Khan Shoro revealed in March this year that the project was unlikely to be completed even by the end of 2018. He admitted that pace of the project, being executed by the Frontier Works Organisation, had remained slow.
The commission also ordered the project director of K-IV to submit records under which the consultancy was awarded to Usmani and Co Ltd. "For months, attempts [were] made to get the explanation of the consultant as to why realignment was done for 22 times but till date no substantial material has been provided."
The company's executive director, Col Ajmal Rasheed, explained to the commission that the delay caused by the realignment of the project's route had saved money, which had to be otherwise spent to acquire private land.
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"Out of 13,000 acres of land [for the project], 2,076 acres was private land. After the adjustment right now the private land is about 1,053 acres ... Had the private land remained 2,076 acres, the compensation cost would have been much higher," he informed the commission.
Col Rasheed further explained that the Sindh government had evaluated cost of the reduced private land at Rs5 billion. "While carrying out the adjustment [realignment], the client ensured utilisation of the government land instead of private land," he added. The executive director also admitted that changing the original route had added Rs3 billion to the project's cost.
However, the commission was not satisfied with this explanation. It observed that the consultant was not authorised to evaluate the cost of land as it was the responsibility of the Sindh government's revenue department.
Justice (retd) Muslim directed the Defence Housing Authority (DHA), Cantonment Board Clifton and the commission's focal person, provincial secretary Asif Hyder Shah, to submit a work plan for the establishment of a treatment plant in DHA by July 2. The plan will also include supply of drinking water in DHA phases I to VIII besides outlining the location and capacity of the treatment plants.
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The commission appreciated the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) and Sindh government for agreeing to end their legal dispute over a piece of land and to designate the site for the construction of a treatment plant. Mangroves will also be planted on the land which measures around 150 acres and which is currently in the possession of the KPT. There had been a legal dispute between the Sindh government and trust over the ownership of the land.
"The KPT and Sindh government agree to give up their stand whatsoever in the larger interest of the public ... The treatment plant should be constructed and made operational." The commission tasked its focal person with demarcating the land and submitting a joint statement along with officials of the Sindh government and KPT.