MITHI: Retired Justice Amir Hani Muslim, who heads the one-member judicial commission formed by the Supreme Court to inspect water supply and drainage system in Sindh, visited Tharparkar on Tuesday as part of his ongoing tour of different parts of the province.
Petitioner Advocate Shahab Usto, whose plea led to the setting up of the commission, and senior officials of the relevant departments accompanied the judge during inspection of various water reservoirs, water supply and drainage installations, banks of irrigation channels, and other such facilities.
While visiting a water supply scheme near Naukot, Justice Muslim found the reservoir meant for thousands of households of the area empty. He expressed anger and indignation over the situation and asked the officials concerned about the reason.
A group of people belonging to Kaloi town, who held a demonstration against unavailability of water in their area, informed the commission that water had not been released in Rann Minor — the only water supply channel meant for a considerably big area comprising Bhittaro, Kaloi and Mohrano union councils — for several years.
Justice Muslim asked chairman of the Mithi municipality Dr Manoj Kumar Malani and irrigation officials to have pity on Tharis and take practical measures to ensure release of water into the channel as soon as possible. He also directed Dr Malani to ensure that safe drinking water was supplied to all consumers and removal of illegal structures from along the minor’s dykes.
He ordered legal action against an influential landowner of the area when people told him that he in the past was found stealing water from a reservoir through pumping machines to irrigate his lands. While receiving a briefing about a major water supply scheme executed a few years back for Naukot and some other parts of Thar and Mirpurkhas districts, Justice Muslim issued directives to the officials concerned to make its installations operational within a month.
He asked the officials concerned to ensure supply of water to Mithi on a daily basis both from canal and reverse osmosis (RO) plants.
He told Mithi judicial magistrate Abdul Qadir Khoso to visit RO pants in Kaloi, Moudoor and other areas and file a report with him so that appropriate measures could be taken in this regard by the commission.
During his visit to Mithi, a large number of citizens gathered around him to complain about an acute shortage of water. They said that the shortage had become a crisis as water supply to their areas within Mithi had been stopped for many weeks on the pretext of maintenance of waterworks. Justice Muslim asked Dr Malani to address the water and other issues.
Justice Muslim inspected RO plants of Misri Shah in the district headquarters and received a briefing from the officials concerned about the quantum and quality of water. Chairman of the Chhachhro town committee Haji Qamaruddin Rahimoon apprised the judge of public complaints against the irrigation and other departments’ officials with regard to supply of contaminated water and short supplies. He informed the commission that many of the RO plants installed in the area were lying closed.
Our Umerkot Correspondent adds: Retired Justice Amir Hani Muslim along with Sessions Judge Ahmed Sabah, Irrigation Secretary Jamal Nasir, Local Government Secretary Ramzan Awan, public health engineering (PHE) official Nafees Ahmed Shaikh and Advocate Shahab Usto visited the major water filtration plant in Umerkot on Tuesday evening.
He was informed that the work for the installation of the plant was started in 2006 and was completed in 10 years as against the projected period of two years.
The PHE official said that the plant, completed in 2016, was made operational only a week ago for the reason that the required power connection and transformer was provided in Feb 2017 with a delay of many months.
Area people complained to Justice Muslim that filtered water was being released from the main storage tank but supplied through the 45-year-old damaged pipelines due to which water got contaminated again before reaching consumers.
The commission was told that cracks had appeared in the walls of the installation just on the third day of the plant’s commissioning.
Answering a question about it, the PHE official said non-technical staff were assigned the operation and they did not have the idea about water pressure upon turning the valves on.
Incidentally, water hit the walls with pressure and damaged the walls.
When the judge was informed that the plant would soon be handed over to the Umerkot municipal committee, he advised against it and asked the PHE to continue to operate it.
Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2018