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November 27, 2018

Opposition wants soldiers to run urban Sindh’s water supply system


November 27, 2018

The Sindh Assembly’s opposition lawmakers on Monday demanded that the provincial government hand over the bulk water supply and distribution system for urban areas to the army or the Rangers since the administration has “consistently been failing on this front for over a decade now”.

The demand was put forward during a two-hour general debate on the MQM-Pakistan’s three adjournment motions on the persistent urban water crisis in the three main urban centres of the province. The motions on Mirpurkhas, Karachi and Hyderabad were presented by MPAs Javed Hanif, Kanwar Naveed Jamil and Nadeem Siddiqui.

PA opposition leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi of the PTI said the Indus River System Authority has rejected the Sindh government’s demand to allocate additional water supply for Karachi.

Naqvi said Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda is under a moral obligation to do his part to get more water for the metropolitan city. He said that four of the five RO plants in Lyari are not working, adding that Lyari and Garden’s water share is being supplied to SITE Area.

He said bottled water companies pay a tax of only 25 paisas a litre extracted, while they charge consumers an exorbitant price of Rs60 a litre. He demanded that the local government minister take action against the water tanker mafia.

He lamented that while the country’s economy is being run from Karachi’s shoulders, the residents of the city are being deprived of water. He claimed that the chief minister had not raised the water issue at any of the four CCI sessions he attended.

The MQM-P’s Khawaja Izharul Hassan said Karachi’s people are suffering from an acute water shortage despite the fact that there is no water consumption in the city for agriculture or livestock rearing.

Hassan said the opposition legislators had visited the pumping stations of the Karachi Water & Sewerage Board, adding that the government was informed about the faults of these installations but to no avail.

He said that now the government has announced that 50MW are needed to run the K-IV water project, adding that the pace of work clearly shows that the scheme would still be under construction in 2028.

The PTI’s Khurrum Sher Zaman said that for the past six or so years he has been raising the water scarcity issue before the PPP’s Sindh administration but to no avail. He said it seems the water situation is not normal in any residential area of the city.

Zaman said the water distribution system should be handed over to the army or Rangers before it is too late, because Karachi’s people can start fighting one another on the issue any day now.

He advised the LG minister to quit if he cannot resolve this problem. He claimed that the LG department is entirely corrupted. He appealed to the CJP to take notice that the people are being constantly fooled due to K-IV.

The GDA’s Nand Kumar Goklani said the water issue is not confined to Karachi, but the problem persists everywhere across the province and has become a matter of life and death. The MMA’s Syed Abdul Rasheed said the province’s rulers should be ashamed over their consistent failure to resolve the water crisis of the city despite being in power for so many years.

Government’s response

Winding up the debate, LG Minister Saeed Ghani said the opposition’s claim that the CM has not raised the water issue in the CCI meeting is utterly wrong. He said the government has acknowledged the issue on every occasion.

Ghani said Karachi’s water issue will be mitigated to a large extent with the resumption of supply from the Hub Dam. He said that a lack of rains has also been a major cause behind the persistent problem.

He said the government has been working on constructing five new water supply schemes for Karachi and Hyderabad, for which Rs6 billion have been allocated, adding that the administration is committed to completing K-IV.

The minister said the government will take the opposition on board to resolve the water issue, adding that the opposition should also help the administration get additional water share for the city.

He said the opposition’s help is needed to persuade the stakeholders to approve the additional water quota. He claimed that the first phase of K-IV will be completed in the next two years, but the federal government must contribute half of the cost.

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