KARACHI: The Supreme Court-mandated Judicial Commission on Water and Sanitation has given two weeks to the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) to remove construction material and debris from roads and footpaths.
Justice (retd) Amir Hani Muslim, the commission's head, ordered the SBCA on Monday to furnish compliance reports in two weeks.
During the commission's hearing in Karachi, SBCA Director-General Iftikhar Ali Qaimkhani informed the commission that he has written to all the directors in Sindh to remove debris and construction material, following the commission's earlier order. However, it did not satisfy Justice (retd) Muslim who pointed out that during his recent visit to Sukkur, he saw construction material and debris on roads.
"Such notification may have been issued but no substantial improvement is visible," the commission head observed. He specifically directed the SBCA's Hyderabad and Sukkur region directors to ensure compliance.
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The commission earlier took notice on April 6 of the rampant problem which creates environmental hazard besides causing traffic congestion and obstruction for pedestrians. "From now onwards, if it is noticed that construction material of any ongoing work is lying on footpaths or roads, DG SBCA will be held responsible and answerable," Justice (retd) Muslim had warned.
The commission had underscored that the local authorities concerned would also be responsible for ensuring restoration of the damaged parts of roads and footpaths. But those directives apparently fell on the deaf ears as blatant violation of the commission's directives still continues.
District East water crisis
The commission also heard the issue of water shortage and water theft in District East of Karachi. East Deputy Commissioner Ahmed Ali Siddiqui along with the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) managing director and others were present on the hearing.
The commission reprimanded the water board for not being able to perform its duties. Justice (retd) Muslim advised the KWSB administration to lay off inept employees and hire new competent ones.
The focal person appointed by the commission, Asif Shah, said that of 19 complaints in District East, 13 had been resolved and work on six was under way.
The commission head expressed his displeasure over sewage accumulated on MA Jinnah. He remarked that an ambulance also once broke down and was stranded on the road due to sewage.
The KWSB MD informed the commission that the road had been cleared of sewage but another seepage happened on Monday morning. However, the MD's explanation could not satisfy Justice (retd) Muslim who directed him to take action against incompetent employees of the board.
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The MD informed the commission that the hydrant mafia was after him. He claimed that they had made a pressure group, hydrants affectees.
The commission head also ordered to dial a test call to the KWSB helpline to see whether it worked or not. The call was received by the operator, resulting in some relief to the MD. The water board chief informed the commission that a mobile application of the board was also functional to which Justice (retd) Muslim asked how those who did not know reading or writing could use mobile application.
Power supply to schemes
The judicial commission directed the Federal Energy Secretary Rizwan Memon to take immediate measures to supply power to the water and drainage schemes in Sindh. A list of such schemes awaiting the power supply has already been submitted through the commission to the federal ministry.
On the list, there are some schemes which require uninterrupted power supply. The secretary was told to direct the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company and Sukkur Electric Power Company to provide those schemes electric connections on a priority basis.
Following the commission's visit to Mirpurkhas, officials of Kot Ghulam Muhammad town committee were summoned at the hearing to explain the poor state of water supply and drainage.
The committee chairperson, Abid Hussain Qaimkhani, assured the commission that the local body could improve the water supply within 15 days if the district administration provided it the required technical help.
He pointed out that encroachments over drains were a major hindrance in keeping the drainage system functional. Qaimkhani was directed to submit an application to the commission so that it could order the deputy commissioner to initiate an anti-encroachment operation.