SHC irked by ACE’s inability to provide answers

Summons ACE chairman to personally appear and explain why the CEPT plant remains non-functional

​ Our Correspondent October 11, 2019
Sindh High Court : PHOTO: EXPRESS

HYDERABAD: The Sindh High Court (SHC) expressed dismay on Thursday with the Sindh Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) for failing to satisfy the court about an ongoing corruption enquiry regarding the Rs1 billion combined effluent treatment plant (CEPT) in Kotri SITE, Jamshoro. Justice Amjad Ali Sahito summoned the ACE chairman to personally appear before the court on October 16.

The SHC, at the last hearing, had given three queries to the technical officer of ACE, Irshad Ahmed, and the circle officer, Inayat Ali Qureshi. The officials were asked to tell the court the amount of loss caused to the exchequer by the contractor, ARA Joint Venture Karachi and the officials of SITE limited.

The ACE was also directed to fix responsibilities on individuals and to explain to the court the reasons due to which the treatment plant remains non-functional. "... they are unable to reply to the questions," Justice Sahito observed.

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The plant was built on a 2010 SHC order to stop the unchecked release of toxic contaminants from Kotri SITE area in the KB feeder canal which supplies water to Karachi. The ACE registered an FIR on April 2, 2019, in Kotri, Jamshoro district, nominating 11 persons in the case under sections 409, 420, 467, 468, 477-A, 218 and 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code. The case was registered on the state's complaint by the circle officer, Qureshi.

According to ACE, the former managing director of SITE, Abdul Rasheed Solangi, had hired the consultant, M/S International Design Group, to prepare the PC-1 in coordination with the chief engineer Abdul Waheed Shaikh.

The PC-1 was approved in April 2010, at a cost of Rs667 million. However, the ACE claimed that an agreement signed by the chief engineer of SITE with M/S ARA Joint Venture Karachi on June 2010, increased the cost to Rs966.95 million without obtaining approval for the revised cost.

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Last year, the SITE handed over the operational control of the plant to Kotri Association of Trade and Industry. At an official meeting, KATI chairman Asif Memon had alleged that the plant had design faults and capacity issues.

According to him, the standard for treated water of Sindh Environment Protect Agency (SEPA) is 400 chemical oxygen demand (COD). However, the plant is designed to reduce 50% COD of the effluent which it receives and the Kotri SITE area's readings show a range between 4,000 to 5,000 COD. It means that even after reduction, the COD will remain in the range of 2,000 to 2,500, which is far higher than the SEPA's standard.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 11th, 2019.


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