Karachi’s water demand is over 1,000 million gallons per day (mgd) and, at present, the supply levels are languishing at around 650mgd. Given the growth in this city’s population over the past few decades, it is imperative that Karachi’s quota for daily water supply be doubled at the earliest.
These were former mayor and Pak Sarzameen Party chief Mustafa Kamal’s comments at Friday’s hearing of the judicial commission probing Sindh’s water and sanitation issues.
He informed the commission that as per the current agreement Karachi receives a quota of 1,200 cusecs of water per day and increased allocation was a must to effectively meet current and future requirements.
Kamal submitted that during his tenure as city mayor, industries located in the city’s SITE area had an illegal supply system – based on the pretext of utilising subsoil water – running parallel to the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board’s network.
He also identified the continuing operations of illegal water hydrants as a key contributor to the city’s water woes. The former mayor informed the commission that water meters purchased during his tenure were still lying in KWSB stores and appealed that the water board be directed to install all such meters at the earliest to check and monitor the city’s water supply.
Kamal said that S-III sewerage project was conceived in his tenure and the estimated cost at the time was Rs7.9 billion, which had now reached a whopping Rs42 billion.
He added that no concrete reasons had been furnished for the delay in the project and the rising costs, appealing to the commission to inquire into the matter.
He suggested that the remaining phases of the K-IV water supply project be also expedited to overcome the city’s water supply deficit. The PSP chief said no government institution or department was paying water bills, a practice that was creating difficulties in revenue generation. He requested the commission to take steps for ensuring that these institutions clear their outstanding dues and pay for all future supply services.
Kamal said that instead of spending money on hospitals to treat diseases, the investment should be made to ensure supply of clean water to citizens as an estimated 350,000 children died of water-borne diseases in Pakistan every year.
He also suggested that work be immediately started on upgrading existing treatment plants and schemes be devised to set up new treatment plants.
The judicial commission was informed by the secretary industries that many unregistered industries were operating in SITE and other industrial areas and, so far, no data was available in this regard with the industries department.
Industries and Commerce Secretary Abdul Raheem Soomro informed the commission that under the provision of law, every factory had to execute an agreement with the industries department for installing a pre-treatment plant for effluent. He conceded that it was the responsibility of the industries department to check and verify the compliance of the agreement; as to whether or not the factory had installed the treatment plant.
He admitted that in the past this aspect had been ignored, although notices were issued to some violators. Soomro submitted that details of the industries would be submitted after conducting a survey.
Also, Mayor Waseem Akhtar's counsel sought a day’s time to file a statement on encroachment of treatment plants and drains. The commission directed secretary the local government to submit by February 4 a combined statement regarding solid waste management plans of all DMCs and the KMC.