PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Tuesday expressed reservations over non-provision of funds for protecting canals from getting polluted, observing that on one hand provincial government had been surrendering funds to centre and on other it lacked money for important public matters.
The bench of Justice Qaiser Rasheed and Justice Mohammad Anwar Anwar made observations while hearing a contempt of court petition filed by a senior lawyer, Ghulam Shoaib Jally, stating that the provincial government had not been implementing a judgment delivered by the court in 2017 wherein several guidelines were given for keeping the canals clean.
Provincial secretary irrigation, acting director general of Peshawar Development Authority and an additional advocate general appeared before the bench and stated that they had taken up the matter with the local government department and after receiving necessary funds work would be started on different measures to keep the canals clean.
Referring to a news item, Justice Qaiser Rasheed observed that provincial government surrendered Rs 80 billion to Rs90 billion to federal government and developmental work in the province was not given priority.
Directs advocate general to appear in person on Dec 19
The bench observed that in recent years, five chief secretaries had been changed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that showed seriousness of the people at the helm of affairs. In such like situation, the bench observed, officers continued to work in uncertain atmosphere with the Damocles sword hanging over their heads.
The bench inquired as to why the advocate general had not personally appeared, to which the AAG said that he was in an official meeting.
The bench fixed December 19 for next hearing with the direction that the advocate general should appear in person and in case he did not turn up, the court would then summon the chief secretary.
The petitioner, Ghulam Shoaib Jally, had filed a public interest petition in 2014 wherein he had requested the court to direct the respondents including the provincial government to take every measure as per law to protect the water of canals from getting polluted.
On December 20, 2017, a bench of the high court headed by then Chief Justice Yahya Afridi had disposed of the petition. The court had constituted a commission of experts on the subject and directed it to submit a report including recommendations for the government.
Following deliberations, the commission had submitted a report wherein it had identified the major sources polluting the canal of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in general and Peshawar city in particular and also put forward recommendations including long term and short term solutions.
The high court bench in its order had directed the provincial government to implement the recommendations of the commission.
The commission had discussed in detail various laws and in particular Canal and Drainage Act and Local Government Act for stoppage of solid waste, municipal waste entering the canal system passing through Peshawar city.
Published in Dawn, December 11th, 2019