Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar lashed out at the Sindh government for its negligence over the supply of unsafe drinking water across the province, demanding to know where the authorities had spent their funds, DawnNews reported on Monday.
The chief justice was hearing a petition filed by Advocate Shahab Usto in the Supreme Court Karachi registry against the authorities for their alleged failure in providing clean drinking water and environment to the people in Sindh.
In the petition filed last year, Usto had alleged that the land meant for Mehmoodabad water treatment plant was illegally allotted to other people by former Karachi mayor Mustafa Kamal. He claimed that almost 80 million people had hepatitis because of drinking polluted water.
The SC had then appointed a two-judge bench, headed by Justice Amir Hani Muslim, who had ordered the formation of a commission headed by a Sindh High Court judge for fair distribution of drinking water in the province.
Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah, however, had last month raised concerns over the commission formed by the SC.
"Let judiciary take care of its own work. If it interferes with administration’s work, the issues will not be resolved. I can’t be a journalist and a cricketer can’t be a politician, so let everyone take care of his own job,” he had said.
During Monday's hearing, Usto told the court that the commission had surveyed the entire province. "From Karachi to Kashmore, no citizen has access to safe and hygienic drinking water," he claimed.
"It is the government's responsibility to provide clean water to the public," Justice Saqib said, inquiring about what elected officials had been doing regarding the matter.
Sindh's health secretary, chief secretary, home secretary, and managing director of water and sewage appeared in court along with other high-ranking officials.
Justice Saqib observed that people were suffering from diseases like cancer and hepatitis due to drinking polluted water, adding that the SC would follow this case closely since it was an "extremely serious" matter. He added that he can come to Karachi every week in order to find out who was responsible for the mismanagement in water distribution throughout the province.
The chief justice ordered the Sindh CM and former Karachi mayor to appear in court — the former will appear on Wednesday while the latter will appear tomorrow.
"Water is one of the resources that our country is blessed with," the chief justice remarked. "We need to protect our resources."