Karachi’s water woes continue

Citizens protest water scarcity amid reports of corruption in KWSB overhaul project


Our Correspondent July 15, 2020

Contaminated water, taps running dry, irked and exasperated citizens taking to the streets, illegal connections, water theft and corruption tell the sordid tale of Karachi's long-standing water crisis.

However, things aggravated on Tuesday when citizens held a demonstration, protesting water shortage in Korangi, and the high court issued notices over a plea alleging the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) of sanctioning illegal connections and a resultant water shortage in New Karachi.

Meanwhile, the anti-corruption department raided KWSB managing director's (MD's) office, after receiving complaints of alleged corruption in the purchase of sewer machines.

On the other hand, the KWSB claimed to have seized nine tankers and arrested as many persons for selling contaminated water and water theft, in joint operations with police.

Corruption allegations

Anti-Corruption team, headed by West Anti-Corruption deputy director Zafarullah Dharejo, raided on Tuesday the office of Karachi Water and Sewerage Services Improvement Project (KWSSIP) director Ayub Sheikh and seized different files and records.

The raid was conducted after reports surfaced of alleged corruption in the issuance of tenders for KWSSIP- a major project launched by the KWSB- and contractors approached the anti-corruption department with complaints and evidence.

As per the allegations, the tenders for the procurement of 14 sewer cleaning machines are being given to 'favourite companies,' bypassing the laws of the Sindh Public Procurement Authority.

Sources in the anti-corruption department have revealed that three companies have already submitted the proposal for the tenders but instead of selecting the company making the lowest bid, tenders are being given on the basis of favouritism.

The sources said that following the raid, Sheikh was interrogated on the matter for two hours and asked to produce the documents in relevance to the issuance of tenders, but he tried to evade the officials. The officials, however, remained resolute and left after collecting the required records and files.

KWSB technical staff officer Amir Waqar and others were also questioned on the matter.

Court hearing

A two-member bench of the Sindh High Court issued notices to the local government secretary, Karachi Water and Sewerage Board MD and other parties over a plea pertaining to water shortage and illegal water connections.

The counsel for the petitioner alleged that the residents of Shafiq Colony were deprived of water as the KWSB had sanctioned illegal connections to supply water to industrial areas. "The water is diverted to industrial area and the colony suffers water shortage," he said.

At this, the court issued notice to the local government secretary, KWSB MD and other respondents, seeking their replies on the plea by August 8.

Protest

The residents of Korangi took to the streets on Tuesday, protesting the suspension of water supply in the area and resulting water shortage.

Staging a demonstration outside Korangi deputy commissioner's office, irate protesters held placards emblazoned with demands for the restoration of water supply, shouted slogans and blocked the road up to Korangi crossing.

The protesters claimed that they had been facing water shortage for the past three years, mainly due to tanker mafia. They went on to blame the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board for their predicament, accusing the department of closing the main valves supply water to the area and instead, providing water to tanker mafia.

Demanding of Korangi deputy commissioner and other relevant authorities to take action tanker mafia and ensure the restoration of water supply to their area, the protesters lamented that they had been deprived of a basic necessity for a long time.

Crackdown

Meanwhile, the KWSB, in a joint operation with police, arrested nine persons and seized as many tankers for selling contaminated water and water theft. The authorities also removed a water hydrant during the operation.

According to the KWSB spokesperson, seven suspects were arrested during separate actions in the limits of Manghopir and Mochko Police Stations, while nine water tankers filled with contaminated were also seized from the areas.

The suspects were identified as Sajid, Hameedur Rehman, Rehman, Ali Akbar, Amir Khan, Faisal Ahmed and Musheer Ahmed, all involved in the supply of contaminated water from Sakran, Balochistan.

Separately, the same team raided an illegal hydrant near Khyber Hotel at Northern Bypass and removed it while arresting two individuals. The arrested, identified as Liaquat and Badshah Khan, are said to be involved in selling water after stealing it through illegal connections.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2020.

COMMENTS

Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ

E-Publications

Most Read