The Sindh High Court (SHC) has asked the Karachi Water & Sewerage Company (KWSC) to take steps for making the existing combined effluent treatment plants (CETPs) fully operational out of their own funds that may be released by the provincial government.
The direction came on Saturday on a petition that sought an injunction against the release of industrial waste as well as untreated water into the sea.
Filing a compliance report with regard to the functioning of sewage treatment plants TP-I and TP-III at the Lyari River, and TP-IV at Korangi, the KWSC’s counsel also filed proposals in respect of the treatment plants and a summary of the required funds for 2023-24 from the Annual Development Programme.
The counsel said that the revised PC-I was approved for an overall cost of Rs36.118 billion for the S-III project. He said that tenders for the new treatment plant TP-IV and for the construction of a trunk sewer in the Malir River were invited in 2018-19, but due to funding constraints work could not be awarded.
He added that since the construction of the Malir Expressway was in process in the Malir River Basin, the sewerage transmission system might need a design review.
He also said that the TP-I rehabilitation work for the 35 MGD stage one has been completed up to 58 per cent, while the expansion work for the 65 MGD has been completed up to 12 per cent.
He mentioned that the rehabilitation of the treatment plant TP-III for 54 MGD has been completed up to 94 per cent, while the expansion plan for 126 MGD has been completed up to eight per cent.
He added that an amount of Rs2.24 billion plus an estimated escalation of Rs2.36 billion at 150 per cent would be required for the completion of TP-I in the estimated time of 18 months.
Regarding TP-III, he said that Rs6.61 billion plus an estimated escalation of Rs9.915 billion at 150 per cent would be required for its completion, which would likely be completed within two years.
The additional secretary finance said the KWSC has its own funds and resources, so primarily, it is their responsibility to meet the expenditures for making sewerage treatment plants operational.
He said the KWSC can submit proposals to the provincial government for the establishment of a new CETP for consideration in accordance with the law and policy. He added that the provision of funds for development schemes depends predominantly on the overall fiscal space available to the provincial exchequer.
The counsel for the petitioners sought time to examine the comments, but requested that the respondents be directed to proceed further in the light of the proposals submitted in court and to file a progress report, including the approval of the PC-I for the new CETP, and the release of funds for the improvement and cleaning of the seashore at Karachi by making the existing CETP fully operational.
The SHC directed the KWSC and other stakeholders to pursue the proposals and submit further progress report on the next date of hearing. In the meantime, said the court, it is expected that the KWSC would make efforts to make the existing CETP fully operational out of their own funds, which might be released by the provincial government.
The World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan, the Citizens for Better Environment (Shehri-CBE), the Pakistan Animal Welfare Society and others had approached the court seeking an injunction against the release of industrial waste and untreated sewage into the sea.
The court had earlier directed the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) to carry out an inspection in the Sea View area near private restaurants to ascertain from how many places industrial waste and untreated sewage was being discharged into the sea.
Sepa had informed the court that the DHA neighbourhood generates eight MGD of sewage and has two treatment plants at the Golf Club and Qublai Khan, having the capacity to treat only 2.4 MGD and two MGD respectively, resulting in 3.33 MGD being disposed of without treatment into the sea.
The Sepa director general suggested that all treatment plants as well as CETPs in the industrial zones be completed as soon as possible, and the environmental laws be enforced to control wastewater pollution.
Sepa also said that as much as 417 MGD of domestic effluent and 80 MGD of industrial untreated wastewater was being dumped into the sea and in the coastal areas of the city due to a lack of comprehensive collection and treatment facilities of domestic sewage and industrial wastewater.
The Sepa DG said that such untreated water causes adverse effects on the marine ecosystem. He said that 55 MGD of domestic effluent was being treated at treatment plants against the 151 MGD of optimum design capacity of the plants, having a shortfall of 322 MGD, while 417 MGD of untreated sewage was being dumped into the sea.
He said that seven industrial zones of the city generate approximately 104 MGD of wastewater, while around 80 MGD of untreated water was being dumped into the sea.
He added that the provincial government had initiated projects of the CETPs established in various industrial zones, and had agreed to release funds for the completion of the projects within the due period of time.
The petitioners’ counsel had said that the acts and omissions of the civic agencies were not only destroying marine life and disturbing the ecological balance but their oversight was also affecting the health of the people visiting the beach for recreational purposes.
The counsel maintained that the people living near the beaches commonly found corpses of endangered green turtles and other cetaceans, which had died due to water pollution.
The petitioners said the sea was being polluted by sewage at Sea View near private restaurants. They requested the court to direct the civic agencies to take steps for the cleanliness of the beaches, and ensure that sewage and industrial waste was not discharged into the sea.
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