'Why is there no water in taps at homes?' Water commission reprimands KWSBPakistan
Justice retired Amir Hani Muslim, head of the Supreme Court-mandated water commission, reprimanded the managing director (MD) of Karachi Water and Sewage Board (KWSB) for lack of provision of water in the provincial capital.
"Where did the water go? What is happening in Karachi?" Justice Hani lashed out at the water body head, noting that even those residing near the hydrants were not getting water while others had to line up from Fajr to get water.
The commission — holding its proceedings at the Sindh High Court on Monday — expressed its anger over the top water board official's absence in court.
Subsequently, KWSB MD Khalid Sheikh appeared before Justice Muslim, who asked: "Do you read newspapers? Do you know that you are being abused?"
Sheikh said that water through tankers was being sent on people's phone calls and even text messages. At this, Justice Muslim asked: "Why is there no water in taps at homes? You have destroyed the system of supply and distribution."
Sheikh was appointed after his predecessor was sacked by the SC over substandard provision of water in Karachi and Hyderabad.
The MD said that he understands people's woes, adding that the board was facing problems because of K-Electric as well since the supply of electricity has been intermittent.
"You do nothing until water lines burst and water enters people's homes," said Justice Hani, adding that sewage water is often mixed with clean water in the city.
He noted that some areas were receiving water while others were not.
"Those who are [receiving water] should be grateful," MD KWSB responded, which irked Justice Hani.
"What are you saying? Are you doing a favour by giving people water?" he asked, reminding the top official that it was the right of the people to have water.
He noted that valvemen's complete control over water supply would have to be curbed and that only the powerful were getting water while the poor were without it.
"Did you ever take action against even one valveman?" Justice Hani asked when told there were 700 in the city.
"I will remove at least 200 people as I leave," he said.
He directed the official to fix the issue by tonight or he would visit the hydrants at midnight himself to monitor the situation.
Justice Hani also reprimanded Mayor Karachi Waseem Akhtar for failing to fulfil his commitment of the construction of Fatima Jinnah Road, adding that the commission had already ordered removal of encroachments on the mayor's request. Akhtar responded that the work was taking time as sewerage lines were being replaced.
While talking the media later, mayor Karachi said that the judiciary was forced to look into the water issue because it was not resolved at the government level.
He further stated that there is no proper system of distribution of water in Karachi while even the projects being constructed with support from the federal government were not being completed on time.
Akhtar said that he had asked Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to ensure that the federal government provides the financial support promised to Sindh over the issue.
Justice Muslim also ordered to cancel the contract of a company responsible for construction around Hala Naka filter plant, Hyderabad, reproaching additional the managing director of Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) over giving the contract to a company with no background.
Justice Hani summoned a report on the appointment of consultant over Gujjar Naala and Pichar Naala by the provincial chief secretary on Tuesday. "Municipal Commissioner Asghar Sheikh is not qualified for this position."
Citizens informed the commission that the situation of provision of water in Orangi and Baldia Town was abysmal, with one claiming that Baldia Town gets water for only 12 hours in a year.
The hearing was adjourned until Tuesday.