Petitioner said that water was being stolen and sold to citizens at exorbitant rates
KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) has summoned the managing director of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) to explain what action was taken against the officers involved in creating an artificial water crisis and running illegal water hydrants in Karachi.
A division bench, headed by Justice Irfan Saadat Khan, called the water utility’s chief after the officials failed to explain the action initiated against those behind the artificial scarcity of water in the port city.
A public interest litigant, Rana Faizul Hasan, had taken the provincial minister for local bodies, the KWSB chairperson, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation administrator, the commissioner and the provincial chiefs of the police and Rangers to the court for not taking legal action to control the water crisis in the city.
Former KWSB MD granted pre-arrest bail
He alleged that the local government officers, KWSB and the KMC were behind the persistent shortage of water in the metropolis so that the mafia could steal water and then sell it to the citizens at exorbitant rates. He argued that the citizens were experiencing an acute shortage of water as the mafia was not only actively stealing the essential commodity, but also selling it to the industrialists.
Hasan alleged that the ‘valve men’ of the KWSB do not release water in their localities and force the citizens to buy water from the tanker mafia.
Domestic water sold to industries
Apart from this, the petitioner claimed that around six million gallons from the domestic quota is stolen in the city’s West zone every day and then sold to the industries to earn profits of up to Rs7.2 million. Similarly, around eight million gallons are stolen from the domestic quota in Site every month and then sold to the industries for Rs200 million.
Absenteeism: 181 ghost employees at KWSB suspended
The petitioner also pointed out that legal water hydrants run by the KWSB are supposed to conduct their operations for four hours every day but the contractors, who are awarded contracts by the KWSB to operate these hydrants, are operating them beyond the fixed hours. The legal hydrants at Nipa Chowrangi, Garden and Sakhi Hasan are involved in excessive operations where more than one suction pump is being used to extract water, he added.
Under the official policy adopted in 2010 regarding water hydrants, KWSB is responsible to legally award tenders to private contractors to run its water hydrants. However, there are 117 illegal water hydrants operating across the metropolis, details of which may be called from the board’s managing director, claimed Hasan.
He argued that easy access to basic amenities, such as water, is the fundamental right of every citizen as guaranteed under Articles 4, 8, 9 and 25 of the Constitution but the authorities are failing to protect such rights.
During Tuesday’s proceedings, the judges directed the KWSB MD to appear in the court and submit a detailed report on action against the officials and private persons who were creating water shortage and running illegal hydrants in city.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 28th, 2015.