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Murad vows to turn K-IV dream into a reality

Karachi

July 6, 2019

The Sindh government will make all possible efforts to complete the K-IV project as soon as possible to meet the water requirements of Karachi. Moreover, the government will also try to control water losses in the system due to which 30 per cent of water gets wasted.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said this while addressing a multi-party and stakeholders’ meeting that had been convened on Friday to arrive at long- and short-term solutions for the persisting issue of water shortage in the city.

Representatives of various political and non-political entities attended the meeting at the seventh floor of the New Sindh Secretariat so that they could help the government deal with the water crisis.

Controlling water waste

The meeting decided to control 30 per cent water losses in the water supply system of Karachi which amounted to around 174 million gallons per day (MGD), and control water theft through different administrative measures.

The participants were informed that by the end of October, additional 100 MGD and 65 MGD water would be added to the system and by that time efforts would also be made to complete the K-IV project which had become a challenging task.

The CM admitted that there was a serious issue of water in the city. “In our system, hardly 480 MGD water is available against a requirement of 1,000 MGD,” he said, adding that as there was not enough water available, the government could not fulfil the water needs of everyone.

“If we distribute it [water] equitably, everyone would be able to get a sip of water and if it is distributed inequitably, then some people would quench their thirst and others would die thirsty,” he said explaining the situation of Karachi. “Either we have to share the water shortage or do favour to some of the people.”

He said he had invited various political and non-political stakeholders at the conference so that they could find out a solution for the Karachi’s water problem. “Our presence here shows that we all have pain in our hearts for the people of Karachi who are facing water shortage,” he said, adding “I want you [the participants] to discuss the matter with open heart and mind and then find out a solution so that we work together to resolve the issue.

Present water position

On directives of the CM, Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) Managing Director (MD) Asadullah Khan briefed the participants on the present position of water for Karachi.

The water board head explained that the population of Karachi was 17 million officially and as the individual water requirement was 45 gallons per day, the total daily requirement of water in Karachi was 918 MGD, against which the total supply of water to the city was 580 MGD that included 480 MGD from Dhabeji and Gharo, and 100 MGD from the Hub Dam.

However, even the water supplied to Karachi was not fully consumed as the water loss recorded in the city was 30 per cent that amounted to 174 MGD, which resulted in the net water supply of 406 MGD that was 44 per cent of the demand causing a shortfall of 512 MGD water in the city, he said.

K-IV project

K-IV Project Director Asad Zamin informed the meeting that the feasibility study of the project was carried out in 2007 at a cost of Rs25.5 billion, in which nine routes of the project were proposed, of which the eighth one that was via Dhabeji was selected as it was the most economical route as well as the most technically feasible.

The project director said it was subsequently decided to implement the K-IV project in three phases, through which 260 MGD, 260 MGD and 130 MGD water would be supplied to Karachi respectively.

The meeting was told that the PC-1 of the project was rationalised by the Central Development Working Party and the cost of land acquisition of Rs5 billion was excluded from the project. The project was approved on the basis of equal sharing of cost between the federal and provincial governments in 2014 at a cost of Rs25.2 billion that was the original estimated cost of the project when it was conceived in 2007.

In 2016, the Sindh government in order to expedite the project awarded its contract to the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO), the project director said. He added that the FWO’s initial bid was Rs42 billion for the complete work of K-IV’s phase-I as per its PC-I, excluding ancillary works and essential components such as bridges, staff colonies, workshop, power supply and augmentation as they had not been included in the PC-I.

This exclusion of essential components of the project from its PC-I created problems as without having bridges on various locations, it was not possible to construct the water line, the project director said, adding that due to such issues the project had been given to NESPAK for a third party verification of design.

The CM said the FWO had submitted a proposal for construction of 650 MGD conveyance system as a one-time activity instead of constructing three different canals. He added that the other problems in the project were installation of a 50-megawatt power plant required for pumping stations, construction of colonies for the staff, carrying out electrical and mechanical works and launching of augmentation project, all of which required huge funds.

Murad said as the government did not have enough funds, it approached the World Bank to finance the project. He revealed that the World Bank had agreed to finance the project on condition that the KWSB was revamped.

The meeting was informed that once the project was approved by the World Bank and NESPAK submitted its report, a revised PC-I of the project would be submitted to the federal government for approval.

Participants’ input

Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Firdous Shamim Naqvi, who belongs to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), stressed the need for reducing water losses. He suggested that the government should improve the water board’s governance.

Naqvi also suggested that the government start recycling of the used water and provide it to industries and other institutions where it could be utilised. Khwaja Izharul Hasan of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) said putting an end to water theft was the solution to the water crisis in Karachi. He suggested that FIRs be registered against water theft.

Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar said even if the K-IV project was completed, the KWSB would not be able to provide water to the citizens because its water distribution system was very defective and obsolete. He suggested building water infrastructure in the city from scratch, and urged the water board to replace its staff members who had failed to deliver.

Javed Bilwani and Zubair Motiwala of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry pointed out that water was not effectively billed in Karachi. They said people did not pay their water bills, therefore, slabs for use of water needed to be worked out which would also improve the financial position of the water board. They complained that many dedicated water lines for industries were being used for other purposes.

Motiwala said the industrial areas of the city required 174 MGD water and their demand could be met by recycling wastewater that was being released into the sea. He lamented that industrialists were accused of stealing water, though the industrial areas of Karachi paid their water bills in advance.

MQM-P’s Mohammad Hussain Khan said Karachi had been paying billions of rupees to the Federal Board of Revenue and the Sindh Revenue Board in taxes but the city was still being ignored. He emphasised the need for improving the distribution system of water.

Awami National Party’s (ANP) Shahi Syed said Karachi had already witnessed much bloodshed and now when things had returned to normalcy, conflicts on water had begun to emerge. He urged the water board to control its water losses so that 170 MGD water could be effectively utilised.

Mohsin Sheikhani said the water board should outsource its billing and recovery departments. He was of the view that unless the KWSB was financially stable, it could not resolve the water crisis.

Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) chief and former mayor Mustafa Kamal said in the entire 130-kilometre strip of the K-IV project, the most expensive work was of pumping water. He added that of 660 MGD water, only five MGD was the requirement of Bahria Town but a hue and cry had been made in such a way as if the entire water project was being built for it.

He suggested to the CM to start a water augmentation project in his Karachi package. He said water lines must be laid again under every road that was being reconstructed under the Karachi package.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam’s Qari Usman advised the government to improve the affairs of the KWSB and make it an effective and efficient organisation, or else such issues would never be resolved.

Decisions

At the conclusion of the meeting, the CM announced a committee of stakeholders to help control water losses and theft, and improve the distribution system as a short-term measure. He said the committee would be notified by the local government department.

As long-term measures, the CM said negotiations were under way to build a 50-MGD recycling plant to provide water to industries. He added that a five-MGD desalination plant was being constructed to provide water to the Defence Housing Authority and the government was also in talks to build a larger desalination plant in the Hub area.

Water schemes of 65 MGD from the Haleji Lake would be completed in October, the CM said. He told the meeting that he had been negotiating with Hubco for a 1,300 MW power plant for Karachi which would resolve the energy shortage of the city. He added that the government had also been collaborating with Hubco for a desalination plant of 1,200 MGD for Karachi.

The CM said he would talk to the prime minister during his visit to the city on July 12 about the K-IV and Hub desalination plant projects. If the Hub power plant was dedicated for Karachi, there would be no need to establish separate transmission lines, he said.

The CM directed the KWSB to clean its water reservoirs, improve the billing and recoveries system, make appropriate and equitable water distribution plan and install a recycling plant as short-term measures for resolving the water crisis of Karachi.

As long-term measures, he asked the KWSB to evolve a separate sewerage department within its domain, and prepare a plan for the reconstruction of its distribution system in which those areas must also be included where its network had not been laid.

The CM said he would again invite the participants of the meeting next month when NESPAK would submit its report on the K-IV project. “I would take all of you into confidence and seek your input to complete the K-IV project,” he said.

The other government representatives who attended the conference included Chief Secretary Mumtaz Ali Shah, Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani, Adviser to the CM on Information Murtaza Wahab, special assistants to CM Waqar Mehdi and Rashid Rabbani, Local Government Secretary Khalid Hyder Shah and others.

PTI leaders Haleem Adil Shaikh and Junaid Ali Shah, ANP’s Younis Buneri, Sunni Tehreek chief Sarwat Eijaz Qadri, PSP’s Arshad Vohra, Asif Hasnain and Hafeezuddin, Jamaat-e-Islami’s Saifuddin and Junaid Mukati, Dr Farooq Sattar’s representative Kamran Akhtar, Ahmed Shah of the Arts Council, Hassan Bux of the Association of Builders and Developers, Ikhtiar Baig of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Imtiaz Faran of the Karachi Press Club, among others, also attended the meeting.

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