SHC orders to remove 'private persons' from KWSB pumping stations, eliminate tanker mafia

Sindh High Court holds KWSB managing director responsible for illegal connections, presence of tanker mafia

​ Our Correspondent January 15, 2020
Representational image. PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) ordered on Tuesday to "eliminate tanker mafia" and getting the "private persons [contractors] to vacate Karachi Water and Sewerage Board's (KWSB's) pumping stations."

The directives were issued by a two-member bench, comprising Justice KK Agha and Justice Mubeen Lakho, while hearing a plea pertaining to the shortage of water in Baldia Town and other areas.

The counsel for the petitioner maintained before the court that private contractors have been charging money in exchange for water supply to various areas. At this, the court reprimanded Central and South District SSPs.

A report on illegal connections in Malir District was also submitted to the court by Malir SSP. The report states that KWSB has been informed of illegal connections in the area and if KWSB takes the initiative, a case will be registered and action will be taken against the offenders. The report also mentions that several areas, including Memon Goth and Gadap, haven't been receiving water due to complete lack of water connections and hence, the residents have to rely on tankers and wells to acquire the precious resource.

South deputy commissioner, who also appeared before the court, informed the bench that assistant commissioners have been directed to carry out a survey and prepare a report on illegal connections in the district.

Later during the hearing, KWSB managing director (MD) informed the court that 155 pumping stations were operating under KWSB in Karachi.

"We have no concern with how influential a body is?" the bench remarked in response to KWSB MD's statement. The court rebuked him and questioned, "Who has appointed you as the MD when you don't know about the [illegal] connections?" The court held him responsible for illegal connections found anywhere in the city, stating that his [poor] performance was no longer hidden from anyone.

Commenting on the situation, Justice Agha said, "Tanker mafia has been making millions via illegal connections." The court questioned the MD on whether KWSB had taken control of the pumping station through which water was to be supplied to the deprived areas and had the tanker mafia been eliminated. In response, the MD informed the court that KWSB has taken control of the pumping station.

At this, Justice Agha asked him to think again about his answer, adding "you will be held responsible if tanker mafia becomes active again."

The court directed KWSB MD to submit a detailed report on illegal connections and water tankers. It also directed police to take immediate step for eliminating tanker mafia and removing private persons [contractors] from KWSB's pumping stations. The pumping stations are to be provided security against "irrelevant persons," the court said, addressing police officials.

Orders have also been issued for KWSB to ensure the supply of clean water to the deprived areas and the residents are not to be charged any sum in exchange.

Directing all relevant SSPs, West District Municipal Corporation chairperson and secretary of public health engineering to attend the next hearing, the court adjourned the hearing till February 25.

Curbing rabies

A bench comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Yousuf Ali Sayeed granted a seven-day extension for the approval of PC-1 plan for the project, 'Fight against Rabies and Population Control of Dogs', while ordering the chairperson of the task force formed for monitoring the spread of rabies and growth in the population of stray dogs and the local government secretary to establish a complaint cell and a helpline within three days.

The directives were issued by the bench while hearing a plea seeking action against the population growth of stray dogs and unavailability of anti-rabies vaccine in Sindh.

During the hearing, the petitioner, Advocate Tariq Mansoor maintained before the court that the taskforce chairperson hadn't taken any action on Central District Municipal Corporation's complaint.

The court inquired, "What happened to the project [that was to be launched] for vaccinating stray dogs and forming a taskforce?"

At this, Sindh additional advocate general informed the court that PC-1 for the project was sent to the chief minister for approval and requested for a week's extension to get the approval.

Additional local government secretary informed the court that cantonment board officials and other relevant persons have not been attending meetings called to discuss about the taskforce.

The court also asked why Hasnain, a minor boy who was mauled by dogs in Larkana, couldn't be treated at Chandka Medical Hospital. The hospital's medical superintendent informed the court that the boy was shifted to the National Institute of Child Health (NICH) in Karachi as it had better treatment facilities.

At this, Justice Mazhar asked for details pertaining to the initial treatment provided to the boy and reprimanded the MS for presenting an incomplete report to the court. "Why did you bring an incomplete report?" he asked, adding that plastic surgery should have been performed on Hasnain.

Irked, the court remarked that it has asked multiple times why Hasnain was not treated properly.

The local government additional secretary presented a report to the court, according to which more than 46,000 stray dogs have been killed in the province.

"What is the point of making any effort if all the dogs are to be killed before the implementation of the project for controlling rabies and population of stray dogs?," the court commented. "What will be the advantage of establishing centres on the basis of Turkish models if the implementation is delayed?"

The court also inquired about the progess on setting up a complaint cell, stating, "Who will people approach if they have a complaint [about stray dogs or rabies]?" The local government additional secretary said they may then approach DMCs.

At this response, Justice Mazhar warned the secretary to resolve the issue or else the court would have to summon the chief secretary.

Besides, reports on the issue from East, West, Korangi and Malir Districts were submitted to the court.

Concluding the hearing, the court ordered district administrations and the provincial government to continue action against stray dogs and directed Defence Housing Authority and cantonment board officials to attend meetings called to discuss the taskforce.

It also granted a seven-day extension for get approval for PC-1 of 'Fight against Rabies and Population Control of Dogs' project and directed the taskforce chairperson and the local government secretary to establish a helpline service and a complaint cell within three days.

Concluding the hearing, the court issued a show-cause notice to NICH's executive director, expressing dissatisfaction on reports pertaining to Hasnain's treatment and ordering the executive director to appear before the court in personal capacity. Directing the chief secretary to ensure compliance to all orders issued by the bench, the court adjourned the hearing till January 29.

Students barred from attending classes

The same bench also ordered the administration of a private school, The Academy, to appear before the court at the next hearing of a case pertaining to the expulsion of students from classrooms over not paying additional fee. The court has also sought fee structure and other relevant details from the school's administration.

During the hearing, one of the school's students informed the court and he and several others were asked by the school administration to leave classrooms as they hadn't paid additional fee. "We were made to sit in the library the entire day and were not permitted to attend classes," he said.

Irked at the administration, the court remarked that contempt of court action would be taken against the school administration if it continued to bar students from attending classes.

The complainant informed the court that the fee was raised by approximately nine per cent 10%. The additional advocate general too maintained before the court that the school administration had provided false information about fee structure.

At this, the court sought fee structure and other details from the school administration, also ordering it to appear before the court at the next hearing on January 27.


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