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Karachi getting toxic water from Keenjhar

Updated September 21, 2013

KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly was told on Friday that Keenjhar lake water had become poisonous due to disposal of hazardous industrial wastewater into the reservoir, one of the major sources of potable water for Karachi citizens.

The issue was raised by Mohammad Hussain Khan of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement through an adjournment motion, which was supported by some other lawmakers from the opposition benches as well as the treasury benches.

Speaking on his motion, Mr Khan said that untreated industrial wastewater was being disposed of in the lake for quite some time and the water had become extremely injurious to health.

“More than 20 million people are exposed to the serious health risk as the Keenjhar lake is the major source of potable water meant for the metropolis,” he said.

The lawmaker urged the house to hold a debate on the issue by adjourning the other items on the order of the day, arguing that it was a matter of public health and needed to be addressed on an urgent basis.

He said the provincial government must take immediate steps to stop disposal of hazardous wastewater into the lake.

Minister for Law and Parliamentary affairs Dr Sikander Mandhro agreed with the lawmaker, saying that it was indeed a matter of serious nature and public importance.

Minister for Information Sharjeel Memon making a statement on the floor of the house said that the lawmakers had raised a serious issue. He informed the house that during its previous term, the PPP government had taken notice of the situation and initiated installation of a filter plant, costing Rs750 million, to ensure supply of safe water to citizens.

However, he said, due to improper installation of the plant raw water was seen leaking from the filters. Efforts were now under way to ensure proper functioning of the plant, he said, and added that an inquiry committee, with the health secretary being one of its members, was looking into the plant affairs. He assured the house that the inquiry report would be submitted in the house once it was received.

Sardar Nadir Magsi said that using a filter plant could not serve the purpose. “What is needed is to take strict measures to prevent disposal of hazardous wastewater into the lake,” he stressed.

Tribute to Dr Rahim Bukhsh Bhatti

Taking up other business from the order of the day, acting Speaker Shehla Raza, who was chairing the deliberations, allowed the law minister to withdraw the government bill No 3, titled ‘The Gambat Institute of Medical Sciences (Amendment) Bill, 2013’. The minister requested that instead the bill No.20 on the same subject be allowed to be introduced.

The bill No.20 called for declaring the institute an independent degree-awarding institution and modifying the composition of its board of governors.

Initiating a discussion, the law minister paid tribute to Dr Rahim Bukhsh Bhatti, the head of the institute, and equated his role in the medical profession to that of Dr Adibul Hasan Rizvi of the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT).

Lawmakers from both sides of the divide including Imtiaz Shaikh, Ashfaq Mangi, Nusrat Seher Abbasi, Manzoor Wassan and Naeem Ahmed Kharal endorsed the law minister’s views.

The bill was then passed into law unanimously.

The house also adopted ‘The Sindh HIV and AIDS Control Treatment and Protection Bill, 2013’.

Earlier, the house which was called to order at 11.15am took up the privilege motion of PPP’s Dr Abdul Sattar Rajper.

The MPA said that on Sept 2, he asked Sukkur DIG Javed Alam Odho to help resolve a matter of public importance and take action against Zafar Rajper, a relative of the DIG allegedly involved in criminal activities. The MPA said the DIG, instead, used abusive language and hurled threats at him which breached his privilege.

The house formed a committee comprising Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Jam Mehtab Dahar, Nadir Khan Magsi, Syed Khalid Ahmed and Imtiaz Ahmad Shaikh to hear the DIG and see if the lawmaker’s privilege was breached.

The house was adjourned at 2.10pm to reassemble on Monday at 9.30am.