PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Tuesday directed the provincial government to clean local canals and produce compliance reports every month.
A bench consisting of Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Mohammad Nasir Mehfooz asked the irrigation secretary and other relevant officials to check the sources of canal pollution without giving in to any political pressure.
It observed that it should be informed if anyone tried to influence officials on the matter.
The bench was hearing a contempt petition filed by senior lawyer Ghulam Shoaib Jally, who said the high court had issued a comprehensive order on his earlier petition on Dec 12, 2017, for short-term and long-term measures to improve canal conditions in the province.
The petitioner claimed that the government had ignored several court orders issued on the petition, including construction of new sewage treatment plants in all urban areas of Peshawar for safe effluent disposal.
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Advocate general Shumail Ahmad Butt, additional advocate general Syed Sikandar Hayat Shah, irrigation secretary Tahir Orakzai, special secretary of the local government department Mutasim Billullah and Peshawar Development Authority director general Syed Zaffar Ali Shah also appeared before the bench.
The bench expressed disappointment with sanitation conditions in the capital and observed that the city had become a heap of garbage.
Justice Qaiser Rashid observed that the residents couldn’t even walk in the city due to dirt and dilapidated roads.
He added that the court didn’t want to interfere in the affairs of the executive but it had to take action if the situation deteriorated to an alarming extent.
Advocate general Shumail Butt said the government had chalked out the Peshawar Revival Plan, whose execution would greatly improve the situation in the capital.
He said the plan included the uplifting and beautification of roads and that civil work on different projects under the plan would begin next month.
The AG said the government was sincerely trying to implement the court’s earlier order on canal cleaning with the chief secretary taking keen interest in it.
He said the government had approved a Rs540 million plan to improve the canal sanitation conditions.
The irrigation secretary said five major canals passed through Peshawar and efforts were under way to keep them clean but they required more time.
The bench told the PDA chief that the capital city’s road network had fallen into ruin after the execution of the Bus Rapid Transit project.
It asked him if he had seen the condition of roads near his office in Hayatabad as people even couldn’t walk on them.
The DG replied that the civic agency had prepared an elaborate plan to rehabilitate roads and other infrastructure and Peshawar would be a ‘changed city’ in near future.
He also said crackdown had been carried out on several Ring Road buildings in Peshawar for not having proper drainage system and parking space.
The special secretary of the local government department said the canal cleanliness drive led to the disposal of 28,000 tons of solid waste.
He also said the government had acquired 800 kanals of land for solid waste disposal and would also acquire 1,200 kanals of land for the purpose.
The bench observed that all those plans should not stay on paper and that practical steps should be taken for their successful execution.
Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2020