HYDERABAD: Caretaker Sindh Chief Minister Justice (retd) Maqbool Baqar has said that bureaucratic inefficiency, corruption and lethargy have contributed to uglification of historic Hyderabad city and warned civic agencies to straighten up else he will have to act ‘ruthlessly’ against them for the sake of the city and its residents.
“I know you have played havoc with every civic facility. Neither the city is cleaned nor Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) is adequately managing sewerage and water supply network, turning the city into a heap of filth and garbage,” he said, adding the officers responsible for the mess would have to face the music.
The chief minister was chairing a meeting of industrialists, traders and representatives of chambers of commerce and industry here on Tuesday. Caretaker Sindh ministers Eshwar Lal and Mubeen Jumani, divisional commissioner, Hyderabad DIG, managing director of SITE and others attended the meeting.
The chief minister observed that Wasa had a network of 3,000km water supply lines and 3,500 km sewerage network but it faced shortage of staff to manage the system. The Wasa managing director said that old supply lines needed repairs but Wasa had no funds to undertake the task.
Blames bureaucratic inefficiency, corruption and lethargy for state of affairs
Wasa paid salaries to employees up to August 2023 and the remaining salaries were yet to be released. Out of 3,000 employees, 25pc remained absent, he said.
The chief minister directed the MD to remove the absentees. He was informed that Wasa’s recovery stood at Rs60m and of them 60pc funds went into payment of salaries whereas 40pc were spent on repairs and maintenance. The Sindh government provided Rs244m quarterly to Wasa, said the MD.
The LG minister informed the meeting that the issue of ghost employees haunted local governments, including Wasa.
The chief minister ordered disconnection of water connection if industrial units failed to clear their bills in time. He was told Wasa had given 400 connections to Hyderabad SITE which amounted to Rs3.5m but only Rs2m was paid to Wasa.
The CM asked the coordination committee working under the commissioner’s supervision to prepare a scheme for infrastructure development in SITE and added the government would bear expenditure but industrialists would also have to contribute to it.
He said that he would talk to the federal government about the Rs5bn package announced for Hyderabad and urged industrialists to adopt schools, parks, roundabouts and other places in order to pay back in lieu of what the city given to them.
CM reprimands officers
The chief minister expressed displeasure over the government officials’ lack of preparedness for briefing on the status of Badin bus stop and said he would visit the city again within two months to see whether the terminal had been made functional.
He arrived in the city this morning and first paid visit to Sindh Technical Educational and Vocational Training Institute in Kohsar area and later went to Badin bus stop.
At the terminal, the CM snubbed Hyderabad Municipal Corporation’s municipal commissioner Anees Dasti for his lack of preparedness for briefing on the status of the terminal.
Dasti did not respond to CM’s queries about the bus terminal, which was owned by HMC but was under illegal occupation of various groups and people with political connections. The district administration was unable to put an end to the occupation and dismantlement of encroachments over the past few decades.
The chief minister asked the officer to explain in percentage points what was the status of illegal occupation on terminal’s land and how many houses had been built. But he could not come up with exact answers.
“Who is contractor of the terminal? You even don’t know who has been recovering money for last five years from here and who is administratively managing it?” said Baqar.
Dasti then passed the buck to Town Officer Shoaib Abro and said he managed the terminal. But Abro too did not have anything to add and failed to satisfy the CM.
The chief minister then asked the divisional commissioner to bring an end to illegal encroachment on the terminal within 10 days. He would visit the city in next two months to see progress on the terminal. Caretaker LG minister Mubeen Jumani would monitor work, he added.
CM orders forensic audit of institute
Earlier, he visited mono technical institute and STEVTA and was displeased to note low attendance of students.
The principal was not able to answer his questions, forcing the CM to observe that when he did not know anything about the machines how would he educate others about them. The students told the CM that they had been given 30 minutes practical training a month back and since then no classes had been held.
The CM ordered inquiry into STEVTA and the institute’s affairs and said forensic audit should be conducted as to how funds were utilized.
Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2023