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Karachi

September 17, 2017

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‘Public hospitals receiving contaminated drinking water’

‘Public hospitals receiving contaminated drinking water’

Drinking water supplied to the federal government-run hospitals in the province contains 38 percent of coliform bacteria, which is beyond the guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO), the member task force told the judicial commission on water and sanitation on Saturday.

The judicial commission, headed by Justice Mohammad Iqbal Kalhoro, was conducting the proceedings in light of the Supreme Court directives regarding continuation of the commission on water and sanitation issues in the province. The hearing was put off until October 7.

The commission had directed the member task force to visit all federal government-run hospitals and submit a report verifying the quality of the water in the hospitals.

A senior research officer of the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources, Dr Ghulam Murtaza, who is also a member of the task force, submitted that 38 percent of drinking water supplied to the federal government-run hospitals contained coliform bacteria.

He said coliform bacteria could be controlled by changing cartridge filters, use of most efficient UV lamp with chlorination of water storage tanks regularly.

The commission directed the federal law officer to ensure implementation of the suggestions submitted by the task force members regarding cleanness of drinking water. The commission directed the federal law officer to send the report to the administration of all public hospitals to ensure clean drinking water supply at the health facilities. It further directed that every month water quality shall be tested through a third party source and a report shall be submitted to the commission regularly.

Health secretary Dr Fazalullah Pechuho said incinerators had been installed in four hospitals, namely the Ghulam Mohammad Mehar hospital, the Lyari General hospital, the Dr Ruth KM Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi, and the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre. But their activation would further take a month’s time, he said. 

He submitted that the order for 17 new incinerators had been put in place that would be installed at different hospitals of the province in next few months. Regarding the supply of clean water to hospitals, the secretary submitted that he was personally supervising the matter but admitted that no third party was conducting the testing of water being supplied to the hospitals. The commission directed the health secretary to ensure that drinking water in the government-run hospitals must be tested through a third party every month and a report be submitted to the commission on a regular basis.

Water supply to schools 

The commission also directed the secretary education to appear in person along with detailed reports showing that how the quality of drinking water and sanitation conditions were being maintained in public schools and colleges of the province.

Dr Saeed Qureshi, the focal person to the chief secretary, has submitted report with regard to implementation of a master plan prepared by the task force for plugging the points from where the waste water/effluent is being drained into the water bodies. The commission directed the task force chairman, Jamal Mustafa Syed, to examine the report and come up with a timeline to implement short term measures first and then the long term steps to curb the menace.

The commission observed that all parties concerned should actively coordinate with the task force chairman in this regard.

The commission was informed by the task force chairman and the SITE managing director that combine effluent treatment plant at Kotri had been made functional and a laboratory had been established wherein industrial waste was being tested before letting it into the KB Feeder. The commission directed Dr. Murtaza, a task force member, to visit the plant and submit a report on next date of hearing after testing the outgoing industrial effluent.

Regarding the water theft from the city’s SITE area, the task force chairman sought further time to submit a report.  He had earlier submitted a preliminary report regarding theft of water from the Karachi Water & Sewerage Board lines and confirmed that to some extent water theft from the SITE industrial area.

The commission took exception over the statements of public health engineering department regarding functionality of the Benazirabad effluent treatment plant and directed the PHED secretary to appear and reply the queries of the commission. The commission directed the task force members to visit the plant and submit recommendations about requirements for making the plant functional.

The commission once again directed the provincial law officer to submit a report regarding approval of the proposed law regulating water hydrants from the provincial assembly or come prepared to reply as why action should not be taken against the officials concerned for not putting up the proposed law before the Sindh Assembly for approval.

The provincial law officers on a previous hearing had submitted that the proposed law had been submitted to the secretary law for final deliberations; however, it had not been placed before the Sindh Assembly for approval.

Industries secretary Abdul Rahim Soomro informed the commission that work progress of the five combine effluent treatment plants in Karachi had been stopped due to financial constraints. The deputy attorney general requested that the copy of minutes should be supplied to him so that he could have liaison with the secretary planning and development department and get the latest information in this regard.

KWSB Managing Director Hashim Raza Zaidi submitted that rehabilitation work of the treatment plants of Maripur and SITE was going on but for want of necessary pumps to be imported from US, these plants could not be made functional. He said these plants would be made functional by June 2018.

Sindh Environment Protection Agency director general Baqaullah Unar submitted that action was being taken against those industrial units which had not installed treatment plants. The industries secretary informed the commission that industries had been categorised into different classes in accordance with the volume of toxic being produced by the factories but their registration was still awaited for want of enactment of necessary laws that were not tabled before the provincial assembly despite approval by the chief minister.

The commission directed the provincial law officer to ensure that approval of relevant laws be made within shortest possible time so that necessary tasks for registration of industries could be accomplished.

Regarding filter plant in Golarchi Badin, the local government secretary informed the commission that the filter plant was not operational. However, the representative of SIEMENS submitted that the filter plant was completed but the machinery had become out of order as its possession was not taken over by the PHED.

The commission directed the relevant stakeholders to sort out the issue and submit a report within one month with regard to functionality of the filter plant. The commission was informed that the deputy commissioner had received funds from the federal government for the purpose.  The commission directed the DC Badin to submit a comprehensive report along with relevant documents showing receiving of fund from the federal government for the filter plant.

Masood Ahmed Jumani, managing director of the Water and Sanitation Agency, Hyderabad, informed the commission that the filter plant on Jamshoro road had been made functional while 17 schemes of drinking water had been approved. Regarding Darya Khan pumping station, he said effluent of the factories was chemically processed before being discharged in Akram Wah canal.

The commission directed the task members force to visit the Jamshoro filter plant and Darya Khan pumping station and submit a report after obtaining their samples at the next hearing on October 7. 

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