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KARACHI: The Supreme Court-mandated water commission on Tuesday ordered an inquiry into the allotment of housing societies in Hyderabad.

The commission, headed by retired judge of the apex court Justice Amir Hani Muslim, appointed chairman of the task force Jamal Mustafa Syed, who is also the secretary of the irrigation department, as an inquiry officer, directing him to conduct the probe and submit a report.

Justice Muslim observed that the projects of housing societies were initiated without taking permission letters from the relevant civic agencies.

He came down hard on officials of the Hyderabad Development Authority (HDA) and the Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) for granting permission for the housing societies without the certifications of civic agencies regarding supply of water, electricity and gas.

The commission also held the officials responsible for the worsening sanitation conditions in the second largest city of the province and wondered how the ownership of a running housing scheme could be changed.

KWSB told to provide water through tankers where it cannot be supplied through pipelines

It observed that allotments/no-objection certificates of all housing societies in the second largest city of the province were liable to be cancelled if they failed to produce the certifications from civic agencies.

The former apex court judge also asked Badar Jamil Mandinro what he had done for Hyderabad as he was given the additional charge of the HDA.

Treatment plants

The commission also expressed dissatisfaction over the non-implementation of its orders about treatment plants at industrial units and sought a report by April 23.

Justice Muslim observed that no industrial unit could be run without a treatment plant and directed the counsel for industrialists to inform them that there would be no compromise on this issue and they would have to follow the law.

Cleaning of storm-water drains

Sindh chief secretary Rizwan Memon informed the commission that Rs500 million had been provided to the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) for cleaning storm-water drains, adding that all the schemes, including Gujjar nullah, had been transferred to the KMC.

Expressing displeasure over non-completion of the cleaning drive, the commission directed City Mayor Wasim Akhtar to immediately start work on cleaning all the storm-water drains.

The mayor said the people in some localities resisted the cleaning drive. But Justice Muslim said he could not believe that the people were against the cleaning and construction of drains.

Water woes

The Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KSWB) managing director informed the commission that they were trying to curb water theft in the SITE area despite facing resistance and cases were also being lodged against suspects.

A citizen, who filed a complaint about non-provision of potable water, contended that 500,000 gallons of water was being stolen.

The local bodies secretary also conceded that water theft was rampant in the metropolis.

Several residents from different parts of the city also appeared before the commission and submitted their complaints regarding non-provision of potable water.

The commission directed the KWSB to provide water through tankers where the water utility could not do so through pipelines.

After the hearing, Justice Muslim with the mayor and the local bodies secretary visited different storm-water drains of the city, including the Pitcher, Mehmoodabad and Gujjar nullahs, and issued directions for their cleanliness as well as taking measures for the removal of encroachments on their banks.

The commission also directed the chief executive officer of K-Electric to appear before it on next hearing (April 23) regarding the removal of electric cables passing over these drains.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2018