Friday September 22, 2023

‘Indiscriminate action being taken against water thieves in city’

By Our Correspondent
September 18, 2023

Karachi Mayor Barrister Murtaza Wahab, who is also the chairman of the Karachi Water & Sewerage Corporation (KWSC), has announced that 32 subsoil licences have been issued to provide water to industrial establishments.

Speaking during a press conference on the water issues of the city that he held at the KWSC head office at Karsaz on Sunday, Wahab said that indiscriminate action against water thieves is under way across the city.

He said that despite a water shortfall in the city, the KWSC is fairly distributing water from whatever is available to them. There will be no compromise with water thieves, he added. “The water of the people of Karachi will be delivered to them. In this regard, all illegal hydrants across the city will be demolished, and illegal connections disconnected.”

He also said that a plan has been devised to solve the problems of waste, water supply and drainage in the city, which would be implemented soon. Residents are worried about the water mafia in the city, but efforts are under way to ensure equitable water distribution and to prevent water theft in the city, he added.

The mayor said the Hub Dam has been providing water to Karachi since 1981. Efforts are under way to provide residents with a full 100 million gallons a day (mgd) from the dam, which would be possible in 20 months, he added.

He said efforts would be made to increase water supply from the Keenjhar Lake and the Hub Dam, while the K-IV project is also being worked on. The federal government aims to complete K-IV by October 2024, he added.

He also said they are not depending only on K-IV but are also working on the Hub Dam project. The previous federal government of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had stopped the work on K-IV, wasting time from 2018 to 2023, which was the biggest injustice to Karachi, he added.

Wahab said that 85 days have passed since action against water thieves began, and the work on the road map is progressing. “We have tried to diligently provide immediate relief to residents, and in this context we have started action against the water mafia.”

Seventy FIRs have been registered so far during various operations, and 75 people have been arrested, while an estimated 150 illegal hydrants are operating in the city, he added.

He said that with the help of the Rangers, police, other law enforcement agencies and the KWSC, operations were carried out in Jhanjhal Goth, Manghopir, Teen Hatti andMehmoodabad.

The operations have improved water supply in Orangi Town, New Karachi, North Karachi, Defence Housing Authority, Lyari and Baldia, and an estimated 10 million gallons have been saved by these operations, he added.

He also said that a new law has been approved by the provincial assembly in view of the situation of 2022 and 2023, so now the KWSC can take action to protect its own water lines.

The operators of illegal hydrants can be punished for five years and fined up to Rs50 million, while a special court for water cases has been introduced because the number of cases in normal courts is already high, he added.

The mayor said they would approach the chief justice to make this court operational so that immediate action can be taken against those who steal water.

He said that seven government hydrants are currently running in the city, the income of which goes to the KWSC. A metering system is being introduced to gauge the water used, for which meters would be installed at the hydrants in a few weeks, he added.

He also said that since 120 mgd from industrial areas is going untreated into the sea, a project is being started to treat 40 mgd by installing a treatment plant, then industries of Landhi and Korangi would be able to use this water.

The KWSC has issued 32 subsoil licences to provide water to industrial establishments that have an income of Rs50 million, and the cooperation of the industrialists is needed, he added.

Wahab said that various institutions are supposed to pay Rs52 billion they owe to the KWSC. “I request all residents, including institutions, to cooperate with the KWSC by paying their dues.”

He pointed out that the pension of the retired employees of the KWSC has liabilities of Rs5 billion, while the monthly income of the KWSC is Rs1.2 billion.