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Wednesday April 17, 2024

CM, WB to improve KWSC, irrigation system’s efficiency together

By our correspondents
March 07, 2024
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah meets with World Bank high-power delegation led by Water Global Director Mr Saroj Kumar Jha and Country Director Mr Najy Benhassine at CM House on March 6, 2024. — Facebook/Sindh Chief Minister House
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah meets with World Bank high-power delegation led by Water Global Director Mr Saroj Kumar Jha and Country Director Mr Najy Benhassine at CM House on March 6, 2024. — Facebook/Sindh Chief Minister House

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that Pakistan is facing severe water scarcity, and the situation is even worse in the province, so it is crucial to promote efficient use of water for both domestic and irrigation purposes to ensure sustainable water management.

This emerged in the CM’s meeting with a high-powered World Bank delegation, led by Water Global Practice Global Director Saroj Kumar Jha and WB Country Director for Pakistan Najy Benhassine, discussing reforms in the Karachi Water & Sewerage Corporation (KWSC) and the improvement of the irrigation system in the province.

The meeting that was held at the CM House was attended by Chief Secretary Dr Fakhre Alam, Karachi Mayor Barrister Murtaza Wahab, Planning & Development Board Chairman Shakeel Mangnejo, Principal Secretary to CM Agha Wasif and Irrigation Secretary Niaz Abbasi.

CM Shah highlighted that Pakistan is facing a severe shortage of water, and the situation is even worse in the province. Therefore, he stressed, it is crucial to promote efficient use of water for both domestic and irrigation purposes to ensure sustainable water management.

He said Karachi is a big city, and his government is working hard to meet the city’s water requirement. “In consultation with the World Bank, we have brought reforms in the water board [KWSC] and have involved the private sector to make it more efficient.”

According to Jha, the KWSC needs to operate like a commercial organisation. He emphasised that water is more crucial than electricity. However, he pointed out, people tend to overlook its importance because its rates are lower than electricity, and they do not take the payment of its bill seriously.

It was pointed out that if the recoveries of K-Electric are better, why can the KWSC not make its recoveries to meet all its expenditures; the KWSC is financially so weak that it has to depend on the provincial government every month to pay its electricity bill.

Wahab, who is also the KWSC chairman, said that since the introduction of reforms in the KWSC, recoveries have started increasing. He said the KWSC recovered Rs1.6 billion during the last quarter, adding that it had been recovering less than Rs1 billion before.

The CM said the KWSC is working on the installation of meters to gauge water usage. “The water board is closely working with World Bank experts to make it more efficient in its structure and vibrant in its service delivery.”

Another matter that came under discussion was the improvement of the irrigation system. The CM said that due to the floods of 2010, 2011 and 2022, the entire irrigation system has been affected badly. He said the provincial government is working with the WB for the improvement of the irrigation system.

Jha said he has visited the Sukkur Barrage. He said that it is a marvellous barrage. The CM said that its repair and maintenance remains a regular feature.

He said the canal system has also been affected due to the floods, and it is being improved through provincial resources and with the assistance of the WB. The CM and the WB delegation agreed to collaborate on improving the efficiency of the KWSC and the irrigation system.

WB lauds reform plans

Karachi Mayor Barrister Murtaza Wahab shared the idea of investing in green energy, such as solar and wind energy, with a delegation from the World Bank.

Wahab along with Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Karachi Water Sewerage Corporation (KWSC) Syed Sallahuddin Ahmed met Global Director World Bank Saroj Kumar at the Chairman Secretariat Karsaz on Wednesday. They discussed in detail the areas of cooperation in the water and sewerage sector in Karachi.

The World Bank’s delegation included World Bank Country Director Najy Benhassine, a senior infrastructure expert at World Bank Khairi Al-Jamal, and Practice Manager Josses Mugabi.

During the meeting, Chief Operating Officer (COO) KWSC Engineer Asadullah Khan, PD Karachi Water and Sewerage Services Improvement Project (KWSSIP) Usman Moazzam, DMD Planning Muhammad Ayoob Shaikh, Shakeel Qureshi, Zahra Dastgir, Sardar Shah, Elahi Bux Bhutto and Siddique Tunio were also present.

During the meeting, the CEO KWSC gave the delegation a detailed overview of the KWSC, its operations and strategies for effective service delivery. He presented to the delegation a comprehensive road map for achieving the goals of the corporation in light of the commitment of cooperation signed with the World Bank with regards to institutional reforms, effective service delivery, revenue enhancement and increasing private sector participation.

The World Bank delegation highly appreciated the steps being taken by the management in all these spheres, specifically, regarding the successful operation against illegal hydrants.

The World Bank global director praised the management for its ambitious plans for reforming the utility into a self-sustaining and politically independent utility, revenue enhancement, increasing private sector participation, and exploring out-of-the-box solutions for sustainable water supply to Karachi.

The mayor mentioned the support that the management has from the provincial government to make all decisions necessary for ensuring effective service delivery to the people of Karachi. He also briefed the delegation on other opportunities of collaboration between the WB and the KWSC, such as the development of community-based RO plants at the union committee level.

He also apprised the delegation of the huge green energy potential of the KWSC, specifically solar and wind energy, as areas of mutual interest for developing future projects. The World Bank delegation appreciated the efforts of the mayor for the improvement of services in the city and assured its full cooperation for projects envisioned for more effective service delivery.

The delegation also visited the Hydrant Management and Monitoring Center on this occasion. It appreciated the efforts of the CEO KWSC in transforming the corporation into a more efficient and service-oriented organization. It lauded him for carrying out unprecedented operations along with the establishment of the Hydrant Management and Monitoring Center.