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August 14, 2020

Supreme Court asks federal govt to solve loadshedding issue in Karachi

Top Story

August 14, 2020

KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the attorney general to seek instructions from the federal government regarding operations of K-Electric and its future plan keeping in view the plight of the citizens of Karachi and come up with a solution to end loadshedding in the city.

Hearing of petitions against illegal encroachmentson public parks, amenity lands, the revival of Karachi Circular Railways and unauthorized multi-storeyed buildings in Karachi, the SC’s three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, observed that there were grievances of the consumers of K-Electric that electric meters were defective and show more electricity consumption. The bench observed that in the case of non-payment of one consumer bill, the power is discontinued. The court observed that such a practice has to be stopped from now on.

The K-Electric filed a report about their operation and power generation. The KE counsel submitted that loadshedding issue was reduced gradually since the last 10 years and 93pc area will be loadshedding free by 2023. The Chief Justice took an exception over the frequent loadshedding by the KE despite court directions and observed that half of the city was deprived of electricity yesterday. The court observed that people were dying from electrocution and the KE officials obtained bails from the court. The chairman National Electric Power Authority said that KE had obtained stay orders from the high court for returning Rs44 billion to the consumers and requested the court to decide them on merit. The NEPRA chief said that KE did not implement the regulators' directives in 2019 and if they had done so, the lives of several innocent people could be saved. The court observed that all stay orders related matters will be decided by the Supreme Court and it seems as if the KE was running its affairs through filing cases before courts. The court observed that the court will intervene and take over the matter when the fundamental rights of the citizens are at stake and it will not leave citizens at the mercy of institutions violating citizens’ rights.

The court observed that there was a monopoly of the power utility which was causing problems and NEPRA was not providing alternate solutions. It asked the NEPRA to impose the maximum amount of fines on KE so that it could be forced to improve its infrastructure. The court observed that instead of imprisonment, imposition of heavy fines compels institutions to desist from corrupt practices. The Chief Justice observed that KE’s Abraj Group Director Arif Naqvi is facing embezzlement charges and facing imprisonment but continues to operate the power supply utility in Karachi.

The Chief Justice observed that all matters of administration are worsening and people are deprived of electricity, clean water and cleanness while the rulers were enjoying their lives and traveling on helicopters and luxury vehicles.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court turned down the Sindh government’s request for modifying the court order about the direction to the National Disaster Management Authority to clean the Karachi drains. The Advocate General Sindh, Salman Talibuddin, sought time to complete the task till August 30. He said that he was not aware of the progress of cleaning of the drains and submitted a report along with photographs. The court observed that in some photographs, blue water was shown flowing in the drains. The AG said that they were not doctored and the work is still in progress.

The court wondered over the statement of the AG and observed that NDMA was given the task with the consent of the Sindh government. The bench observed that the Sindh government was only concerned about the withdrawal of funds for cleaning of drains if the task was completed by the NDMA. The court observed that funds were not utilized properly by the Sindh government and a large amount allocated for different development projects was misappropriated by the government officials. The court observed that mere showing some photographs could not change the court order asking the advocate general as what the provincial government had done for the people of the province.

The court also pointed out commissioner Karachi had told the court that several encroachments were made on drains in Bath Island, Clifton and Sindh Secretariat, Sindh Assembly areas and one was also for parking by the private university.

Regarding the Karachi Circular Railways, the Supreme Court directed the federal government that the Frontier Works Organization (FWO) be commissioned to construct 10 underpasses on Karachi Circular Railways route within six months from the date of award of contract and formalities be completed not later than one month from this order.

The bench also took an exception to the newly constructed Sindh Assembly building and observed that Sindh Assembly was a heritage site. The court observed that Sindh government constructed the new Sindh Assembly like a luxurious building. The court also asked commissioner Karachi to ensure tree plantation on the greenbelts and vacant amenity land, observing several trees were cut down on the Khalid Bin Waleed Road and Clifton near the US Embassy without any justification.

The court also dismissed the application about the construction of Customs Club in Gulshan-e-Iqbal and observed that government officers could not be allowed to construct a private club on government land. The court directed commissioner Karachi to file comments on an application filed by affectees of the Karachi Circular Railways land for their rehabilitation at a suitable place with basic amenities. The court directed commissioner Karachi to file comments on the application about the encroachment of land at the DHA and Cantonment board areas by heavy vehicles.

About billboards, the Supreme Court directed the commissioner Karachi to remove all advertisements, billboards and hoardings in the Karachi Division from public properties. The court observed that relevant district municipal corporations shall get billboards and hoardings installed at private properties examined by competent engineers who can certify their safety, and then take action accordingly.