KARACHI: Mayor Wasim Akhtar has claimed that water allocated for Karachi is being robbed, saying the K-IV project will not benefit the citizens, but ‘others’.

“Karachi needs 1,100 million gallons per day (mgd) of water, but it hardly gets 420mgd and such situation has led to the water crisis in the city,” the mayor said in a policy statement issued here on Tuesday.

He urged Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah to take notice of it and ensure uninterrupted supply of water to the provincial capital.

The mayor said that since the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) was being run by the Sindh government, it should be asked to stop the rampant theft of water allocated for Karachi and give its people their right. He said that 420mgd water provided currently to Karachi was also being supplied to them untreated, causing immense health hazards.

City Council resolution demands nationalisation of K-Electric

“Karachi is being supplied 585mgd water from Keenjhar Lake, but 70mgd of it is stolen for agriculture while low-capacity machine at Dhabeji further decreases this supply,” the mayor claimed.

He accused the KWSB officers of selling water after stealing it from the bulk water supply source and the distribution system. He said that 30 per cent of the city’s water was lost due to leakages in main pipelines in various areas. Besides, he added, most of the water supplied to Karachi was not treated as out of 420mgd just 50mgd got treated at the Pipri plant, 100mgd at the North-East Karachi K-2 filter plant and 80mgd at the Hub filter plant, whereas four filter plants at Gharo, Bil, Pipri and North-East Karachi with a capacity of 200mgd could not treat water due to lack of maintenance.

Mr Akhtar claimed that the stolen water was being supplied to villages and farmhouses, water parks and commercial units at Dhabeji. He said water available in Karachi was also stolen by the tanker mafia in cahoots with KWSB employees, being sold to commercial units.

He said supply of chlorine to COD and Hub filter plants had been stopped since long and germ-infested water was being given to the citizens. He said that projects like K-IV were being completed with the money collected through taxes and ironically their benefits were being denied to taxpayers while the landlords “are watering their lands and palaces from our pipelines”.

Call for KE’s nationalisation

The City Council on Tuesday adopted a resolution unanimously requesting the federal and provincial governments to nationalise the city’s power utility.

The resolution appealed to the federal and Sindh governments to engage the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) to stop the ‘excesses perpetrated by the K-Electric’ against the people of Karachi.

It also requested the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take appropriate measures to give relief to the citizens because such relief had been denied by the government[s] as yet.

The City Council members sought relief for consumers in tariff and tangible reduction in the existing bills, and demanded for an end to prolonged outages as KE had matching production capability according to the needs of the city.

The members demanded that benefit of cheaper 650MW electricity being provided by the Centre to KE be transferred to consumers, overbilling be ended and consumers be treated with respect and facilitated at KE’s centres. They called for posting of an officer from the federal ombudsman office at each integrated business centre of KE.

The resolution called for an immediate end to meter rent and return of money received through this head back to consumers. Excessive bills should not be issued to consumers by unfairly accusing them of power theft, etc.

The resolution suggested establishment of a tribunal to look into the complaints of overbilling and other matters and decide it in three months. It also sought job security for KE employees.

Discussing the issue, council member Junaid Makati said KE was getting Rs75bn subsidy now while it was getting only Rs5bn before its privatisation over a decade ago.

Aijaz Ahmed called for reviving union in KE to remove sense of job insecurity among its employees.

Firdaus Naqvi said the council was not against privatisation, but against thievery.

Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2017