The lack of decision is proof of the authorities’ negligence towards the burgeoning problem
KARACHI: Trials relating to water theft – one of the most lucrative businesses in the port city – remain ambivalent as the authorities continue to show least interest in getting the culprits convicted, it emerged on Saturday.
In January, the authorities swung into action, after the Supreme Court ordered them to tackle the artificial water crisis created by officials in connivance with the water mafia to expand their illegal businesses.
The Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) officials registered dozens of criminal cases against people for allegedly stealing water from the main trunk lines and selling it through illegally set-up hydrants in different localities.
KWSB managing director Misbahuddin Farid had presented a report to the apex court to show progress of his department’s action against water theft. He stated that 28 FIRs were registered at different police stations in which 59 individuals were booked for breaching the water utility’s main lines.
The cases were registered between February and August at the Steel Town, Shah Latif Town, Ibrahim Haideri, Quaidabad, Sukkun, Sohrab Goth, SITE and Super Highway police stations.
According to the report, all 59 accused, who were booked, including 46 arrested ones, have yet to be convicted. “All of them obtained bail from the relevant courts before or after their arrest,” a court official told The Express Tribune.
The police had registered these FIRs under Sections 430 and 427 of the Pakistan Penal Code. Section 430 carries a punishment of a maximum of five years for stealing water by cutting or diverting water sources such as pipelines. The culprits may or may not be fined.
Section 427 provides that anyone who causes a loss of up to Rs50 or more shall be imprisoned for two years with or without a fine.
The water utility’s chief had admitted before the apex court that a fresh legislation is required to curb the growing prevalence of the theft and penalise those involved in the illegal business.
Given the status of the cases pending undecided in the court, the officials should concentrate on proving their allegations until the new legislation is passed.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 5th, 2015.