KARACHI: The Sindh government has decided to declare water theft a non-bailable offence and until a law is passed by the assembly, which is not in session, an ordinance will be promulgated soon to eliminate water theft and scanners will be used to detect underground water connections.
These measures were discussed and agreed upon during a meeting held at CM House on Monday between Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and a Muttahida Qaumi Movement delegation, led by Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Khwaja Izhar-ul-Hasan. The delegation, comprising Syed Sardar Ahmed, Mohammad Hussain, MNA Kanwar Naveed Jameel and Khalid Ahmed, drew the chief minister’s attention to the water crisis and measures required immediately to provide relief to the people with the need to expedite the pace of work to implement K-4 and other short-term water schemes.
The chief minister, who was assisted by his cabinet members Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Dr Sikandar Mandhro, Syed Murad Ali Shah and Sharjeel Inam Memon, told the delegation that the PPP government and its leadership had always given ownership to Karachi. “We strive hard to solve public problems in this megalopolis. That’s why I released Rs160 million last week to provide water tankers free of cost to the water-starved areas of Karachi,” the CM said.
“Like our leadership,” the chief minister said, MQM chief Altaf Hussain was also concerned about water scarcity in the city. “He talked to me last night on this matter and said that his team would give some suggestions to redress the public grievances.” He added that it was a good move on his part that the MQM was coming up to help his government to solve the problem of water shortage.
Khwaja Izharul Hassan said illegal hydrants should be closed down and water theft through illegal connections be stopped. Local Government Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon said that with the help of police and Rangers he had bulldozed over 120 illegal hydrants and removed a large number of illegal connections. “We have already intensified operation against illegal hydrants and illegal water connections. Now I have given scanners for repair to detect illegal underground water connections and shortly would personally lead this drive,” he said and thanked the MQM for supporting the government move.
He also said that FIRs had also been registered against people operating illegal hydrants.
The MQM and PPP teams agreed to enact laws to declare water theft a non-bailable offence. For the purpose the chief minister said the assembly was not in session, therefore an ordinance against water theft be promulgated. For it a draft would be prepared and exchanged with the MQM delegation before its promulgation.
The MQM delegation urged the PPP government to launch a 65MGD project and complete it within a year. Minister for Finance Syed Murad Ali Shah said he would arrange funds if the project was completed within a year. Minister Memon said he had already worked out its tender and by the first week of June its international tender would be invited. “This project has already been given a priority and its documentation formalities are at completion stage,” he said.
Talking about the K-4 water supply project, the finance minister said that in the current ADP Rs250 billion had been allocated and in the next ADPP another Rs250 billion would be earmarked. “In this way the local government would have Rs5 billion in hand and the federal government would also be requested to allocate at least Rs3 billion as a matching grant for the project.
Sharjeel Memon said that he had already started work on the K-4 project. Its formal stone-laying ceremony would be performed by the chief minister shortly. “I would also invite our MQM parliamentary delegation to jointly launch the project,” he said.
When Mr Hassan raised the issue of revamping of the existing water supply projects, Mr Memon said that rehabilitation work was already in progress. “I have restored all the pumping stations and have installed 18 meters on the main line to ascertain supply of water and line losses, or water theft whatever it may be, so that necessary action could be taken. I am also working to restore back-up pumping motors also,” he said.
Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and his team and the MQM delegation agreed to hold meetings every month so that coordination could be strengthened further.
Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2015