KARACHI: The Supreme Court directed K-Electric on Thursday to file an affidavit that it would end unannounced loadshedding and implement the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) directives within a week.
Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar warned that strict action would be taken against officials of the power utility if they failed to show improvement after filing the affidavit.
A three-judge bench of the SC headed by the chief justice and comprising Justices Sajjad Ali Shah and Munib Akhtar was hearing a set of petitions and suo motu proceedings at the Supreme Court’s Karachi registry.
The power utility officials conceded that loadshedding of three to seven hours was being carried out in the areas where it faced line losses.
SC directs officials to take steps to improve infrastructure, curb power theft
The bench observed that illegal connections could not run without the help of KE employees and loadshedding was not the solution to reduce losses. It directed the KE officials that they must take steps to improve the infrastructure and control power theft as well as the distribution system.
The chief distributing officer of the KE claimed that the company was taking measures and making investment to enhance its capacity.
Advocate Faisal Siddiqui contended that the KE officials were trying to mislead the court about loadshedding and its infrastructure and said that Nepra in a recent report against the KE held that it was underutilising its capacity.
The court further directed KE to produce a plan for alternative fuel to run its plants if gas was not available and also inform the court about the plan and time frame to overcome loadshedding.
Meanwhile, the head of the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company claimed that there was zero loadshedding in Hyderabad.
The chief justice directed him to file an affidavit in support of his claim.
Bahria Town illegal constructions
The chief justice directed the Bahria Town management to file its reply within a week about alleged illegal constructions in Bahria Town Karachi.
The Association of Builders and Developers (Abad) filed a petition against illegal construction of high-rise buildings at Bahria Town Karachi and the counsel for Abad Faisal Siddiqui contended that construction was being carried out without permission of the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA).
He further said that Bahria Town neither had any approved plan nor any NOC for the sale of plots, adding that the SBCA had recently filed a report in the apex court about illegal constructions.
A Bahria Town law officer sought time to engage a counsel. The chief justice observed that the Malir Development Authority was a statutory body and Bahria Town had to obtain permission from it and other authorities concerned. He observed that Bahria Town chief Malik Riaz had to turn up and explain about illegal constructions. However, the bench granted a week to Bahria Town to file a reply.
Around a dozen people claiming to be victims of Bahria Town Karachi, tried to address the court as they had done during previous hearings and contended that despite making heavy investments, the Bahria Town management was not providing water and other basic facilities to them because of the apex court’s restrictions.
The chief justice asked them whether they were trying to pressure the court and he knew who was sending them to court and made it clear that the apex court order on Bahria Town would be implemented in accordance with law and pending matters would also be decided on merit.
The bench directed the civic authorities and cantonment boards to ensure that no wall was used for displaying advertisements.
An official of the Cantonment Board Karachi informed the bench that in compliance with its earlier order, six walls built for advertisements had been demolished, adding that one of seven other such walls for which an NOC was issued by military authorities had also been demolished while the remaining walls had partly been knocked down as they were attached to buildings.
The chief justice directed the authorities concerned to make sure that no wall was used for advertisements in the future in their respective jurisdictions.
Discharge of untreated sewage into sea
The chief justice expressed serious resentment over the discharge of untreated sewage into the sea and a shortage of potable water in the provincial metropolis.
However, he appreciated the efforts of the SC-mandated commission on water and sanitation in Sindh and directed the authorities concerned to follow the commission’s directives.
Justice Nisar asked a provincial law officer what had the government in Sindh done during the last 10 years for the people.
He expressed displeasure over polluted Manchhar Lake and said he would personally inspect the lake and directed the authorities concerned to address the water woes of Karachi within three to four months.
The chief justice also advised Advocate General of Sindh Barrister Zameer Ghumro to step down as his government had already completed its tenure, adding that the attorney general had also resigned.
Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2018