Wednesday Dec 06, 2017
KARACHI: Human waste is being deliberately released in water, observed Chief Justice Saqib Nisar during Wednesday’s hearing of the water pollution case. The remarks of the chief justice came after a short-film about contaminated water was shown in the courtroom.
In July, a report submitted to the Supreme Court stated that 90 per cent of drinking water samples collected from Karachi were unfit for human consumption and a significant portion was tainted with human waste.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and former Karachi mayor Mustafa Kamal arrived at the Supreme Court’s Karachi registry to appear before the bench hearing the case.
During the hearing, Chief Justice Nisar observed that the water situation in Sindh is troublesome, adding that the chief minister has been summoned so they can resolve the situation together. The chief justice stressed it was the responsibility of the government to provide clean water to residents.
"If you say, we both can go drink and check the quality of water from any stream in Mithi," Chief Justice Nisar remarked.
Justice Nisar added: "I wish [PPP leader] Bilawal Bhutto Zardari knew of the [water] situation in Larkana".
He further asked the chief minister to rid Karachi populace of water tankers, adding that it was his (CM Shah's) responsibility to provide the citizens with clean water.
The chief justice further said they would not interfere in the administrative affairs, however, they would also not allow anyone, be it the chief minister or the prime minister, to act against the constitution.
"Even if we have to come to Karachi every week and summon you, we would do that," he told CM Shah.
Justice Faisal Arab also observed that people go to court after witnessing the failure of the government.
Sindh Cheif Minister Murad Ali Shah informed the bench hearing the case that the water crisis is not as extreme as shown by the petitioner, adding that "if I get an opportunity I will show my video to the court".
He was referring to a short video by petitioner Shahab Usto which was shown earlier in court through a projector.
The chief minister said that the provincial government is working to resolve the issue, however, it is facing a shortage of funds.
Shah claimed that 100 per cent water supplied to Lahore, 73 per cent in Sheikhupura and 88 per cent in Sargodha is arsenic, adding that the court proceedings appear to only single-out Sindh.
To this, the chief justice responded that even if the video is set aside, the extremity of the situation can be gauged from the commission's report into the matter.
Former mayor Mustafa Kamal during his appearance before the court said that the metropolis needs 1250 mgd (million gallons a day) but receives only 1.51 per cent of the total water supplied to Sindh.
He said K-3 and K-4 projects were introduced during his tenure, adding that the project even after its completion would not meet the city's water requirement.
Separately, while addressing journalists after the hearing, Kamal said that that the metropolis is facing an acute shortage of 600 MGD.
He added that the completion date given by the government is 2018, whereas according to his knowledge, the project will not be completed even in four-year time.
Later, the apex court adjourned the hearing until December 23, directing the chief minister to submitted a written response on the issues facing the government on the matter of water contamination.
In the last court proceedings of the case, Justice Nisar observed: “This is a matter of people’s lives, it cannot be ignored. The chief minister will be asked about all the steps he has taken in this regard.”
The chief justice also remarked that the judiciary must intervene when the government fails to fulfil its responsibilities.
“There will be no compromise on air and water pollution,” he remarked, adding “the high officials will also be summoned in the case if necessary.”
The bench also summoned Kamal as during his tenure, land reserved for Mehmoodabad water treatment plant was reportedly illegally allotted.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Peoples Party Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari shared on social media that he is glad that Sindh chief minister will get an opportunity to present the case of PPP government in Supreme Court.
Over the matter, Bilawal tweeted: “1 of biggest crisis affecting all of Pakistan is water. The Sindh Govt has taken practical steps to address this from investing in the most RO plants across the province, linging of our canals and construction of damns. I’m glad CM will get a chance to present our case in SC.”