The Gilgit-Baltistan’s Supreme Appellate Court (SAC) Wednesday asked Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) Gilgit to provide compensation money to the family of a boy who had drowned in Gilgit River while fetching water.
“The family of the boy should be given Rs500,000 in compensation as the boy died due to negligence of Wasa officials,” remarked Justice Mohammad Nawaz Abbasi, chief judge of the SAC.
His remarks came during the hearing of a suo-moto case pertaining to the death of the young boy two months ago in Konodas. The area was struck with acute water shortage at the time, forcing people to collect water from the nearby Gilgit River. More than a dozen people have drowned in the river this year.
Justice Jafer Shah put the blame squarely on Wasa officials and instructed the agency to pay the compensation money by deducting money from its employees’ salaries.
The court asked the superintendent of police (SP) Wasil Khan to explain why they have not arrested the WASA officials. The SP replied that the officials were granted bail from the lower court.
The court also inquired from the deputy commissioner (DC) about the failure of the authorities to act on the court’s advice to erect barb wires near the river bed, for safety of the people. The DC informed the court that the matter had been discussed with chief secretary and funds will soon be allocated for it. He also asserted that signboards had been placed at riverside, warning people to stay away from hazardous points.
During the hearing, advocate Abbas drew court’s attention to paucity of rescue teams in Gilgit, which could have averted the loss of so many lives.
The chief judge asked region’s police chief to form a rescue team comprising professional life guards.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2011.