KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that he intends to resolve the issue of contaminated water all over Sindh within minimum period of time by installing plants on 726 major points to treat domestic waste and effluent before its release into water bodies.
The chief minister stated this while speaking to media during his visit to Jahangir Park on Wednesday evening.
Accompanied by Local Government Minister Jam Khan Shoro and Senator Murtaza Wahab, the chief minister said that besides water treatment plants, water testing laboratories were also being established in 23 districts for which an amount of Rs105 million was already approved.
Murad vows to resolve the problem
Murad Ali Shah said that Sindh could not be singled out since the predicament of contaminated drinking water and insanitary system were more or less the same across Pakistan.
He quoted Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement (PSLM) Survey of 2014-15, which showed percentage distribution of source water by household.
In Sindh, 41 per cent of people use tap water, 33pc hand pump, 11pc motor pump and four per cent use well water while in Punjab 18pc households use tap water, 28pc hand pump, 45pc motor pump and one per cent use well water, he added.
Murad Ali Shah said that the report showed that the condition in Sindh was not as bad as being painted.
He went on saying that “unfortunately Sindh is at the lower end, receiving river water contaminated with all kinds of effluent from the province upstream.
“Studies show that several industrial cities, including Faisalabad unleash untreated effluent in the Indus,” he said.
Talking about water quality status of major cities of the country, Murad Ali Shah said he told the court that 69pc people of Pakistan drank unsafe water.
He quoted Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources, Ministry of Science report which says that Punjab drinks 69pc unsafe water, KP 47pc, Balochistan 81pc and Sindh 81pc.
“It means it is a national issue and must be solved holistically.”
The chief minister, replying to another question, said that his government was committed to resolving the contaminated water issue for which work with sincerity and commitment was in progress.
During the briefing to journalists recalling further details of the measures being taken by his government for ensuring potable water supply to the people, the chief minister said that there were 953 non-functional water supply and reverse osmosis plants at present.
“I have approved an amount of Rs4.9 billion to make them functional. The work on most of the non-functional schemes has already been started,” he said.
“We have already identified 726 major points all over the province from where domestic waste and effluent is released into distributaries and canals.
“We have made schemes of installing treatment plants to treat the domestic waste and effluent before its release into the water bodies and this will cost Rs3.586bn,” he said and went on saying that in the first phase treatment work would be started at 221 points for Rs800m and added that he had allocated Rs400m which was 50pc of the allocation.
In reply to a question, the chief minister said although he as chief minister had exemption from appearing before the court, “I thought the Supreme Court is working hard to resolve the issue of contaminated water in Sindh and it is the issue of our people, therefore I must appear in court and I did.”
In reply to yet another question, he said that a documentary shown in the courtroom of the Supreme Court on untreated effluent being released into water bodies and canals was a “one-sided production”.
“It was an old documentary and now the situation is quite different,” he claimed.
He added that he told the honourable court that a drainage scheme for Shikarpur city of Rs505m was in full swing. The drainage system in Shikarpur had improved.
Another drainage scheme of Rs1,406m was also in progress in Larkana so that untreated waste water could not be released into the canal.
A similar scheme was also in progress in Mirpurkhas. “We are working hard to stop release of waste water, industrial waste and effluent into canals, but it would take some time to resolve the issue properly because a lot of funds are required for the purpose,” he said.
Replying to another question, Mr Shah said that the Supreme Court had ordered him to institute an inquiry against a former city nazim for illegal allotment of land belonging to Treatment Plant-II. “Just after returning from the court I have directed chief secretary to issue an inquiry order,” he said.
The chief minister said that the Supreme Court took up the issue of water being released downstream Kotri and said it was waste of water.
He added that he told the court that the release of water downstream Kotri was necessary to stop sea intrusion. “The sea has already encroached upon the sweet land of Thatta and Badin. We still feel essential quantity of water is not being released to save the delta and stop sea encroachment,” he said.
The chief minister talking about K-IV water project said that the federal government had agreed to share 50pc cost of Rs25bn project and so far it had released only Rs3bn. As a matter of fact, the cost of the project had gone up to Rs33bn, including Rs5bn of land acquisition.
CM eats biryani in Saddar
After briefing the media, the chief minister went around Empress Market, Bohri Bazaar and other areas of Saddar, where he mingled with shopkeepers, vendors and common people.
Besides listening to their problems, he allowed them to take selfies with him.
The chief minister could not resist the aroma of biryani coming from a nearby biryani shop; he grabbed a plate and enjoyed a few morsels along with other people.
Replying to a question, he said that the Supreme Court appreciated the services of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto for making the 1973 Constitution. “I am quite satisfied and relieved that the court [Supreme Court] that had sent Shaheed Bhutto to gallows has appreciated him today for giving a best Constitution to the country,” he said.
Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2017