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May 15, 2018

KWSB told to computerise water supply system in two days


May 15, 2018

The Supreme Court-mandated judicial commission investigating reasons for the persisting shortage of clean drinking water, poor sanitation and environmental pollution in the province has taken exception to the non-computerisation of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board’s water supply system and directed the utility to computerise the system in two days.

The commission, headed by Justice (retd) Amir Hani Muslim, observed that the KWSB’s IT department lacked the required competence to meet the challenges. It further said that the entire system within the utility was not computerised and there was no explanation from the IT department manager, who said there were a few budgetary schemes which they had computerised.

It expressed serious reservations and said the bulk water supply from pumping stations and the onward supply could be streamlined through a centralised system. The commission directed the KWSB’s managing director to complete the entire process within two days, which should reflect the tentative water discharge from the bulk till it reached the consumers. Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar submitted that the Empress Market drain had been re-routed by the cantonment board.

The commission observed that drains did not fall within the domain of the cantonment board and permission for a multistory building on that w as also unprecedented. It direced the member of the task force, Syed Asid Hyder Shah, to take up the issue with the relevant forum and file a plausible explanation. On the working of the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board (SSWMB), the mayor said that the issue be deferred for some time as they wanted to see the working of the SSWMB.

The commission directed the two private contractors responsible for the lifting solid waste in Karachi to fulfil their part of the contract. It told the district municipal commissioners to ensure that according to a list provided by their municipalities for the employees transferred to the SSWMB, the employees would perform duties as per a plan, failing which their salaries would be stopped and departmental proceedings initiated against them.

Regarding the delay facing the K-IV project, the commission observed that the project had suffered adversely due to frequent realignments, and directed the consultant of the project to appear along with a written justification as to why the project was realigned 22 times, which created doubts in the minds of the public at large.

One of the applicants claimed that project of water supply had been intentionally handled in a manner to benefit a house scheme. The commission directed the consultant of the K-IV project to file the facts and figures about the additional amount on account of the 22 realignments points, which had to be paid from the public exchequer, It also directed that the consultant also spell out the authority of the person under whose orders they had allowed the realignments. The commission directed the consultant to submit a detailed report within a week with the aforesaid justification.

40pc without water

On May 12, the commission had observed that the KWSB had apparently failed to cater to the needs of at least 40 per cent of Karachi’s population due to poor maintenance of its distribution system, indifferent employees and the department’s connivance with the water mafia, among other reasons.

This was observed by the commission as its head Justice (retd) Amir Hani Muslim filed the commission’s third interim report to the Supreme Court. The commission observed that KWSB had apparently failed to meet the needs of the city’s population due to several reasons that include improper resource allocation, unplanned urban growth, poor maintenance of distribution system, indifference on part of the water board employees and, above all, the connivance of the department with various water mafias. The report said the organisation needed a complete overhaul to meet the requirements of the ever-growing Karachi population, and this will require substantive resources and reasonable time to implement.

Regarding the Greater Karachi Sewage Treatment Project (S-III), the commission observed that the project has seen a marked improvement. According to the report, TP-III was working at 3 per cent in January, but with rehabilitation efforts, it is now working at 31 per cent capacity, and by June 30, it will start treating 54 million gallons per day (MGD). Moreover, the TP-I was working at 3 per cent capacity in January, and now with rehabilitation, it is working at 18 per cent. By December, it will start treating 51 million gallons per day.

Making its observations on the Greater Karachi Water Supply Project (K-IV), the commission noted that it has been put on the fast track and as per the revised work plan, its completion date is June. So far the project progress stands at 36 per cent, which is likely to meet the deadline. The commission in its report also observed that the major reason behind the civic problems in Karachi was the violation/non-observance of building codes with or without the connivance of the Sindh Building Control Authority.

In order to streamline the working of the SBCA, various orders have been passed that are aimed at improving the current situation and terminating the undesirable activities/practices being carried out under the garb of building regulation, the report stated. It added that the SBCA has been directed to prepare master plans for all major cities of Sindh at a faster track, while the SBCA has also imposed a ban on the issuance of development permits to housing schemes and construction permits to public sale/buildings without NOCs from utility agencies.

The report added that the commission has taken notice of the violation of environmental protection laws by the Defence Housing Authority and Cantonment boards and directed them to come up with a solution to avoid drainage of untreated sewage through storm water drains into the Arabian Sea as such practices not only cause inconvenience to visitors but also destroy the marine life.

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