KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Monday issued notices to the defence secretary, director general of military lands & cantonments, Defence Housing Authority (DHA) and Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) on a petition against inadequate supply of clean drinking water and an additional levy in Defence and Clifton.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi issued notices to the respondents as well as a federal law officer subject to maintainability of the petition.

It directed the respondents to file their replies/parawise comments preferably within 30 days and asked its office to fix the matter after four weeks.

Some residents of DHA and Clifton moved the SHC stating that they had been paying the annual water levy, but the respondents had failed to provide adequate quantity of water to them and other residents in flagrant violation of Article 38(d) of the Constitution and judgements of the apex court.

Court asks defence secretary, CBC, DHA to file their replies within a month

They said that the authorities had been charging additional amount against each water tanker.

Representing the petitioners, Advocate Jibran Nasir argued that the petitioners had regularly been paying requisite taxes including the annual water tax and entitled to be granted utility of water, but sufficient water was not being provided to them despite receiving additional charges.

He stated that the CBC had been claiming to provide water through additional bowsers via a mobile application, but the residents including the petitioners were repeatedly informed that no water bowsers were available despite the fact that Rs750 charges per bowser was paid in advance.

The counsel submitted that the CBC was seen operational on roads delivering water bowsers to certain households in what appeared to be a preferential system for various influential residents, who were being prioritised over other inhabitants.

While referring to a judgement of the Supreme Court, he maintained that the provision of dirking water is a right to life.

However, the lawyer argued that the CBC had failed to provide five water bowsers with no additional cost to the houses where water was not adequately supplied through pipelines.

He said only two bowsers with additional charges were being occasionally provided leaving the petitioners and a vast majority of resident with no option but to purchase water privately at exorbitant rates.

Advocate Nasir contended that the lack of water metering system within the jurisdictions of DHA and CBC had allowed the latter to charge an annual water tax based on the size of the property instead of actual water consumption, which was in violation of Article 25 of the Constitution.

The petitioners asked the court to declare additional charges against each water bowser as illegal and unlawful as well as contemptuous of the apex court’s orders.

They sought a restraining order against levying and collecting additional charges for supply of tankers.

They further sought directives for the respondent to provide five water bowsers to all residents including the petitioners and to provide actual statistics about supply of potable water to the residents through pipelines and bowsers.

The petitioners further sought implementation of the national water policy 2018 and installation of water meters within a period of one year.

After establishing the metering system, the respondents be directed to supply water through pipelines and stop the supply through tankers/bowsers, the petitioners requested the court.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2022

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