KARACHI: The Sindh government on Wednesday informed the provincial legislature that its local government ministry would constitute a new governing body to run the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board in which representatives from all political parties having representation in the house would be included.
“Everyone representing people in Karachi will be taken on board. I request parliamentary leaders of all political parties in the house to nominate their representatives for the KWSB [Karachi Water and Sewerage Board] that would be running it to resolve the longstanding issues vis-à-vis water and sewerage,” said Local Government Minister Nasir Shah while responding to calling-attention notices tabled by two opposition lawmakers.
The notices were moved by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Khurrum Sher Zaman and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Adeel Shahzad in which they discussed problems of water supply and sewerage system in the metropolis.
Resolution seeks probe into child’s drowning in school swimming pool
“We believe in democratic dispensation and will run such affairs by taking everyone along,” said the minister.
Minister Shah said all related authorities and elected lawmakers were being included in the loop to make the city clean and restore its hygienic conditions that had deteriorated for a variety of reasons in the past few weeks.
Hub Dam replenishment
He said the recent rains had replenished the Hub Dam, which had tangibly resolved the water issues in the city’s western and central neighbourhoods. However, he added, the archaic infrastructure was itself a problem which his ministry was trying to replace with a modern and efficient system.
He said the elected representatives would be consulted on policy issues as well as day-to-day problems.
He said the ministry was sincerely busy in making transparent distribution of water and revamping the existing old web of mains.
Regarding supply of contaminated water in Orangi Town, Mr Shah said recently two pipelines — a 66-inch diameter and another of 48-inch diameter — had been replaced yet issues regarding supply of water and contamination of potable water were surfacing.
He said to resolve the same issues, a World Bank-funded $100 million project had formally been inked; its second phase would be much greater in size, which would cost $500m — also funded by the World Bank.
Later, he told reporters that the Sindh government had no desire to see the Karachi mayor resign from the post, adding that it was collective responsibility of all authorities to make the metropolis clean.
He added that Federal Minister Ali Zaidi’s cleanliness campaign was started with good intentions in which garbage was surely being lifted. But, he added, what made the situation worse was that those in whom the minister entrusted the task were not transporting the trash to the designated landfills. However, “now, the federal minister has taken notice of that issue and the garbage is being transported to the landfills”.
Earlier, the PTI lawmaker called the KWSB in his calling-attention notice “the most corrupt department” in the country and demanded that the provincial government launch inquiries through its Anti-Corruption Establishment against the “corrupt elements” in the board.
Mr Zaman accused certain KWSB officials of being involved in operating water tankers in the city.
“These officials do not want to get the water and sewerage problems of the city solved. Besides, the government should also check how many of them have dual nationality since many of them have flown abroad as soon as they left their posts,” he added.
MQM-P’s Shahzad said the water supply and sewerage systems in Orangi Town had been destroyed because of lack of maintenance, while the people of the thickly populated neighbourhood were forced to drink water contaminated with sewage leaking from choked sewerage lines.
He said the contaminated water had alarmingly increased incidence of abdominal diseases and hepatitis.
“From now on the Sindh government and related department would be deemed responsible for the death of every child in the area because of these reasons.”
In response to another calling-attention notice moved by PTI’s Shaharyar Shar, Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh said tribal feuds had taken many lives in Ghotki and other districts of Sindh.
He said the Sindh government and the police were taking all possible measures to maintain law and order in the province. However, area notables, chiefs of various warring communities and clans should also help the authorities to save people from dying in feuds that could easily be resolved through mediation.
Mr Shar said the ongoing feuds in Ghotki had resulted in deaths of several young people.
Hazards of eating Malir vegetables
Later, Khurrum Sher Zaman moved an adjournment motion for admissibility in which he said the people of Karachi were exposed to dangerous health hazards because of eating vegetables being grown in Malir district using water poisoned with chemicals flowing through the Malir riverbed.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Chawla opposed the motion on the grounds that it pertained to no recent occurrence.
On PTI lawmaker’s words that the government was opposing his adjournment motion, but its ministers would realise their mistake when they would themselves fall victim to the same poisonous stuff, Mr Chawla responded angrily that the mover “perhaps serves the same poisonous vegetables in his restaurant”.
Mr Zaman said he wanted to highlight the issue because it was an extremely serious one, which was evident from a letter that the KWSB’s managing director had written to the chairman of the District Municipal Corporation Korangi referring to dangers involved in growing vegetables in such a hazardous environment.
Minister Chawla said he opposed the motion because the provincial government had taken action on the issue more than a year back when reports about the practice in Karachi were highlighted in the media.
However, he assured the mover that the government would take a similar action if that practice had resumed.
The mover withdrew his motion saying his prime concern was to draw the attention of the authorities to the matter.
Resolution on swimming pool death
The house unanimously passed a resolution tabled by PTI’s Bilal Ghaffar which showed concern over the death of a sixth-grade student of the Habib Public School by drowning during a swimming class at the school’s swimming pool.
The mover said 11-year-old Usman Durrani drowned during a weekly swimming class at the school while the instructors failed to take timely action to save his life.
It demanded that an inquiry be ordered by the government to assess the causes behind the death of the child.
PTI’s Seema Zia said it was a grave human issue, asking why Usman’s parents were informed four hours after the child had died. Besides, she asked if the instructor was qualified having training in paramedic protocols.
The health minister said her ministry would furnish recommendations on such issues to the relevant authorities. She said there should be availability of lifeguards and first aid in every school since children got injured while playing and sometimes wounds grew serious. She said the incident should not go unnoticed and school administration should be made accountable.
The resolution was passed unanimously.
Published in Dawn, August 29th, 2019