KARACHI: A debate on the water crisis in the city dominated the proceedings of Sindh Assembly on Monday, with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MPA Khurram Sher Zaman demanding to hand over the management of Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) to the army or Sindh Rangers.
Zaman criticised the provincial government’s performance and said that there was no single area in Karachi where KWSB provided water on a regular basis. “For the last six years, I am pleading at this floor to provide potable water, but all in vain,” he said adding, “We want to know where the public money goes. The water issue can’t be resolved until corruption is eradicated from it.” Zaman remarked that the minister responsible for inequitable distribution of water in the city should step down if can’t perform the job diligently.
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Taking part in the debate over the adjournment motion moved by Muttahida Qaumi Movement - Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Kanwar Naveed Jameel on water crises in Karachi, Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas, Zaman floated an idea to hand over water utility board to armed forces, and said, “You can’t manage water distribution, please place KWSB under army. They can manage it,” the PTI MPA said expressing concern over the volatile situation in areas of Karachi and said, “If the same situation continues, then we will wage war on the water in coming days,” he remarked.
Opposition leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi said that the Indus River System Authority (IRSA), which is the regulatory body to distribute water among provinces, has refused to allocate special water quota for Karachi city.
“Federal water and power minister has also been elected from Baldia Town area, so it is his responsibly to resolve the Karachi water issue,” Naqvi said diverting the attention of the house towards five River Osmosis (RO) plants installed under the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government which, according to him, are lying dormant for quite some time.
The opposition leader questioned why the chief minister Sindh had failed to raise this issue in Council of Common Interest (CCI) meetings. “In last four CCI meetings, the chief minister has not even uttered a single word on Karachi water crisis.
“PPP has been in power for last 11 years in Sindh, but has not yet redressed water issue of Karachi being the economic hub of Pakistan,” he said. He also added, “I wonder to see Lyari, Garden’s potable water being used for industrial units of SITE area.” The discussion on water crisis continued for two hours in the session where members from opposition and treasury expressed their views on it.
Responding to the remarks by Naqvi, Sindh Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani said that Sindh chief minister was more active than the other chief ministers in Pakistan. “I bluntly reject opposition’s allegation against CM. Our chief minister has taken up water and other issues of Sindh at every platform.” The local government minister accepted that there was a water crisis in the city and said that dry spells [lack of rains] have aggravated situation. “Let’s sit together to devise a plan in order to resolve this issue,” he said adding that the provincial government has allocated around Rs6 billion for Karachi and Hyderabad water schemes. The minister said that the K-IV project will significantly resolve the water crisis and it will take one and a half year to complete this project.
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Khawaja Izharul Hasan of MQM-P added that the government had misguided the citizens about K-IV project as it can’t be completed before 2028. “People are enraged and frustrated on this issue. We will support them if they come out on roads against water crises,” he said. Izhar added that there was no infrastructure to supply water to Lyari, Baldia and Orangi Town. “World Bank helped in developing 70 pumping stations in the city, but the government failed to lay down infrastructure over there,” he lamented.
Nand Kumar Goklani of Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) said that not only Karachi, but the water crisis has made the lives of people miserable in entire Sindh. “The situation in Thatta, Badin and Sanghar is pathetic where people travel miles in search of water. It has become a rare commodity,” he said.
After discussion on this issue, the speaker adjourned the session indefinitely.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 27th, 2018.
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