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Monday April 15, 2024

Govt set to table Islamabad Water Act draft in Parliament

A water customer will have the right to file an appeal to the Authority against a final notice

By Khalid Mustafa
March 05, 2024
National Assembly during a session in Islamabad. — APP/File
National Assembly during a session in Islamabad. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: The government is all set to pitch the draft of Islamabad Water Act 2024 in Parliament to get it passed to ensure sustainable quality water supply for domestic, agricultural, industrial, ecological, and other purposes with a mechanism to fully recover the cost of water under which the umbrella body of Islamabad Water Resources Commission (IWRC) would be established with the mandate to conserve, redistributing or otherwise augmenting water resources in Islamabad capital territory, a senior official of Water Resources Ministry told The News.

“Waters in rivers and their tributaries, nullahs and streams flowing in the Islamabad Capital Territory and lakes, ground and subsoil waters, storm water in drains, canals, or minors forming part of the system of irrigation water supplies in Islamabad will be as deemed as controlled water under IWRC.”

At present, he disclosed, CDA spends almost Rs4 billion per annum on the Islamabad water supply business. However, the receipts are limited to Rs600 million, showing the loss of Rs3.4 billion per year.

The IWRC, he said, will be headed by the Minister of Interior as chairperson and the Minister of Water Resources as co-chairperson comprising 9 members. The Pakistan Council of Research for Water Resources will provide secretarial and technical services to the Commission. Secretary, Water Resources Division, Secretary, Interior Division, Secretary, Climate Change Division, Mayor of Islamabad, Chief Commissioner, Islamabad, Chairman, Capital Development Authority (CDA), two independent water experts, one environmental expert – Member, Chairman, Pakistan Council of Research for Water Resources will be the part of the commission as its members. Under the Act, Islamabad Water Services Regulatory Authority (IWSRA) comprising a chairman and four members would also be set up as soon as may be, but not later than thirty days of the commencement of the Act to carry out the functions mainly with the mandate to determine the tariff of water for all kinds of consumers apart from regulating all the players in water business such as water and sewerage service providers.

“The water would be brought from the Indus River through a pipeline to cater to the increasing water needs of the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi and to this effect Kuwait will fund the project as Pakistan and Kuwait already signed in November 2023 about water supplies to twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. The feasibility is currently being carried out to determine the cost of the project. Under the project, 200 cusecs per day of water will be supplied from the Indus River. CCI has already approved it after getting a nod from IRSA (Indus River System Authority).”

Under the Act, he said, the government will appoint one or more companies through competitive bidding to be the water service provider or sewerage service provider that will install new water supply infrastructure for water supplies for the rural areas of Islamabad and housing societies. However, the CDA will be the service provider for the urban areas of Islamabad.

Every water service provider will develop and maintain an efficient and economical system of water supply within its area and ensure that all arrangements for the supply of water to premises entitled to obtain water under this Act; and for maintaining, improving, and extending the system of water mains and other pipes.

A water service provider will have the right to disconnect a service pipe, which is connected with any water main of that water service provider if the occupier of the premises is liable to pay charges, due to the water service provider, in respect of the supply of water to such premises and has failed to pay such charges within a period of fifteen days of service of the notice requiring him to pay such charges or the occupier of the premises is found liable for willful waste of water and has failed to adopt remedial measures to rectify the prevailing situation concerning waste of water within a period of ten days beginning with the day after he is served with the notice requiring him to correct such situation.

A water customer will have the right to file an appeal to the Authority against a final notice to pay within 10 days of the issuance of the final notice to pay and the water service provider shall not disconnect the water supply during the said period or decision of appeal.

Talking about the trade effluent (Industrial waste), the official said that every sewerage service provider will provide a sewer to be used for the drainage of trade effluent to premises entitled to receive services for drainage of trade effluent.