KARACHI: The Sindh High Court directed the provincial government, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) and district municipal corporations (DMC) on Tuesday to form task forces for dog-bite cases in the province and directed the Sindh government to provide anti-rabies vaccine ARVs in all districts of Sindh.
A two-member bench comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Agha Faisal was hearing the plea filed by advocate Tariq Mansoor against the unavailability of ARVs in the province.
The court inquired from the local government secretary why he hadn't appeared before the court at the previous hearing. The court asked why the issue wasn't being resolved when dogs were biting people.
Local Government Secretary Roshan Ali Sheikh said that this falls under the responsibilities of DMCs. He told the court that an amount of Rs20million had been set aside for the east district. Funds were given according to the demands of each district with the exception of East district which did not ask for any.
Korangi deputy commissioner told the court that his district received Rs15m while districts South and West received Rs20m.
The Central deputy commissioner informed the court that his district has asked for Rs20m and the funds haven't been received as yet while the Malir deputy commissioner said that his district asked for Rs15m which haven't been received as yet.
The court directed Sheikh and the health secretary to form district-level task forces and designate vehicles to address the issue of stray dogs.
The local government secretary maintained that these funds were being given to DMCs for the repair and maintenance of their respective vehicles.
"What were you doing till now? This amount of money is not required for the purpose as Suzuki pick-up vans could also be used for it," remarked the bench.
Meanwhile, the health secretary told the court that ARVs were being supplied to around 313 hospitals.
"Where are the results if 16,000 vaccines are available," asked Justice Mazhar.
The counsel representing the east district maintained that action is taken immediately as the complaint is received. "A full-fledged operation has been carried out in Lines Area," he added.
"You are submitting the report for August. The operation should be continuous," remarked the bench.
"Why don't your teams patrol in the areas," asked Justice Mazhar.
"Work was initiated from where we were receiving complaints," said Sheikh. "A task force has also been created and a report will be submitted soon. Sindh is the only province where a unique campaign is being worked out," he said adding that Ibrahim Hyderi was being worked out into a model place.
"The issue won't be solved even if we kill 100,000 dogs as one million more dogs will be reproduced. We will control the reproduction of dogs and then the number of stray dogs will be controlled," said the local government secretary.
"Your verbal commitments will not work. The preferred work is done while other works are left undone," remarked the bench while warning that the relevant deputy commissioner would be held accountable if any incident occurred.
"We have been directed to complete PC-1 within a week," Sheikh told the court.
The spokesperson of an NGO said that another dog takes place of a stray dog which has been picked up. According to the spokesperson, the actual issue is with feeding the dogs and arrangements needed to be made to feed the dogs. He also noted that the campaign against stray dogs could not be successful unless reproduction is controlled.
"10 days should be granted to us. We will finalise the plan," said Sheikh.
The NGO spokesperson maintained that killing dogs was not the way to resolve the issue. "ARVs should be administered to dogs. We are cooperating with the government," he added.
"We are following Turkey's model and the project will be completed soon," said Sheikh.
The petitioner, advocate Tariq Mansoor, maintained that dogs in the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America (USA).
"Will thousands of dogs be detained when there is no place for humans to live," said Justice Mazhar.
The court asked Karachi Municipal Commissioner Dr Saifur Rehman what he has been doing.
"We have only one vehicle and the rest is just scrap," said Dr Rehman. He also said that KMC has 14 hospitals including Abbasi Shaheed Hospital.
"What's the guarantee that the vaccine will be available if any dog-bite case comes to one of your hospitals," inquired the bench.
At this Dr Rehman expressed helplessness and said that there was no guarantee.
The senior health director told the court that there were 469 ARVs available on Tuesday.
"Around 176 cases have been reported in October that's why there is a shortage of vaccines," said Dr Rehman.
The senior health director added that Abbasi Shaheed Hospital and three other hospitals had the vaccine.
The bench directed the Sindh government, KMC and DMCs to form task forces for dog-bite cases in the province. The court also directed the provincial government to provide ARVs in all the districts of Sindh.
The bench further directed Dr Rehman to arrange more vaccines and ordered all DMCs of the city to expedite their efforts against stray dogs while noting that vehicles could be rented for the purpose.
The court directed Sheikh to submit a final report of the project within a week and a detailed report on the operation on the next hearing. A report was also sought on the efforts in Ibrahim Hyderi.
The court adjourned the hearing till November 7.
Water supply in Baldia
Meanwhile, a two-member bench comprising Justice KK Agha and Justice Zulfiqar Ali Sangi sought a reply from the West deputy commissioner over the complaints filed against the non-supply of water in UC 36 of Ittehad Town, Baldia Town, by November 25. The Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) managing director was directed to restore the water pumping station within 15 days.
The bench was hearing the contempt of court plea against the KWSB managing director.
Over 50 residents of Baldia Town and the KWSB managing director appeared before the court.
The petitioners' counsel, Munsif Jan, maintained that three contractors sell water in Baldia's Ittehad Town under the patronage of KWSB. "They collect thousands of rupees and supply water only to their favoured people. Water is being stolen with the support of the KWSB managing director and the West deputy commissioner," he argued.
"There is a contempt of court plea against you. Why didn't you comply with the court's orders," inquired the bench from the KWSB managing director.
The KWSB managing director replied that a 15 day extension should be granted as two pumping stations in Baldia's Ittehad Town were not working and there were some unpaid dues towards K-Electric. "The pumping stations will be restored within 15 days," he said.
The court directed the managing director to restore supply to the pumping stations within 15 days and take action against the elements responsible for water theft in the area. The bench also sought replies from the West deputy commissioner by November 25.
Another two-member bench comprising Justice Syed Hassan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Kausar Sultana Hussain directed the Karachi mayor, KMC and other agencies to remove encroachments from the footpaths in the city. The bench was hearing a petition against encroachments on footpaths.
The petitioner's counsel maintained that encroachments are established on roads in Sharafi Goth and Landhi. "Pedestrians are inconvenienced due to encroachments," he argued, adding that encroachments should be removed as ordered by the Supreme Court.
The bench observed that road accidents could increase if pedestrians began walking on the roads. "Footpaths are reserved only for pedestrians. Who is allowing encroachments on footpaths? KMC and DMCs should work instead of fighting over jurisdictions," remarked the bench.
The court directed the Karachi mayor, KMC and other agencies to remove footpaths in the city and submit their reply within 15 days after taking action.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 23rd, 2019.