Says official posts are there to serve people, not to enjoy
Court orders Murad Ali Shah to submit a detailed report regarding the actions taken to resolve the issue by December 23
Justice Faisal Arab maintains that people come to courts only when management fails
Court orders Murad Ali Shah to investigate the matter of Mehmoodabad treatment plant land allotment issue
KARACHI, Dec 06 (SABAH): Human waste is purposefully being added to water, observed Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar during Wednesday’s hearing of the water pollution case.
Headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, a three-judge bench at the SC Karachi registry heard the constitutional petition of Shahab Usto, a concerned citizen and lawyer, against the provincial government’s failure to provide potable water, better sanitation, environment and associated issues.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and former Karachi mayor Syed Mustafa Kamal arrived at the Supreme Court’s Karachi registry to appear before the bench hearing the case.
During the hearing, Chief Justice Mian Saqib 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.
“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”.
Justice Faisal Arab also observed that people go to court after witnessing the failure of the government.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah informed the bench 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.
Chief Justice Saqib Nisar told Murad Ali Shah that official posts are there to serve people, not to enjoy. Mian Saqib Nisar remarked while addressing Murad Ali Shah that the court has called him with great respect, and its only purpose is to rid the Sindh people of contaminated drinking water.
The CJP added that it is very sad to see such poor situation, and it needs to be changed. He told Murad Ali Shah that the problem can be fixed in six months with mutual efforts.
Sindh CM replied that the work cannot be done in six months. The CJP commented that the deadline can be extended upon request, and said the court is aware of fact that contracts are given to the relatives and this practice should end now.
Justice Saqib Nisar affirmed that the apex court is ready to give complete support to Sindh government, but the CM also has to assure the completion of work. He asked Shah not to get involved in any illegal matter for one year and assured him that this habit will then develop forever.
Education, leadership and implementation on law make the nations successful, remarked Justice Saqib Nisar. He also announced to determine the persons responsible behind this situation, but in the second phase.
Justice Faisal Arab maintained that people come to courts only when management fails, and said the judiciary has no interest in using the administrative powers.
SC ordered Murad Ali Shah to submit a detailed report regarding the actions taken to resolve the issue by December 23, and said Mustafa Kamla will once again be summoned.
Addressing the chief minister, Justice Faisal Arab said, “You were elected [by the people] to solve issues,” adding that people turn towards court due to failure of the administration. “The court has no desire of using the administration’s authority.”
The apex court is ready to lend its support to the provincial government, but the chief minister will have to give a guarantee of accomplishing the task, the chief justice remarked.
Justice Nisar inquired as to how much water from the Indus River falls into the sea annually and why this water could not be used to meet the needs of Karachiites.
The chief minister responded that the level of water in the Indus River is very low. “Badin and Thatta are being destroyed due to shortage of water,” Shah said.
When the CJP proposed a six-month deadline to solve the unsafe drinking water issue, Shah said the task could not be accomplished in six months.
At this, justice remarked that the administration should act and an extension could be given if asked for.
The chief minister assured the court that he would devise an executable plan and fully implement it, but requested time to resolve the issue.
Being the chief minister of Sindh, you will have to submit an affidavit to the court stating the time required for the task, the CJP told Shah. He recommended that Shah should not simply form a committee and leave it on its own.
Shah said he would give the court a time-frame about the plan of action, methods, finances and resources needed for the job.
“You received votes from the people, and you are the one who is answerable [to them],” the CJP said, addressing Shah.
Shah informed the court that Rs3.5 billion are required to clean the effluent that falls into the Indus River.
He said he would try to solve the issues that he has committed to, but the task that belongs to the executive should be left for the executive to do.
“Some court decisions are impacting the performance of the executive,” Shah alleged.
The CJP offered Shah to use the court’s “shoulders” to resolve the issues at hand.
Justice Nisar asked Shah where he resided — at his house or the Chief Minister House.
The chief minister responded that he lives in the Cantonment area and gets water at his house via tankers.
“Shah sahib, rid the lives of Karachiites from tankers,” the CJP urged the chief minister.
Justice Nisar reminded Shah that under the Constitution, the water and sanitation issues fall into the domain of fundamental rights.
“The court has the authority to intervene if the executive does not fulfill its duties,” he stressed.
Justice Nisar said the court will not interfere in the powers enjoyed by the executive and neither was the court expecting overnight improvement.
The court directed the Sindh government to submit a comprehensive plan about the provision of clean drinking water and treatment of sewerage to the court within 15 days.
Former Karachi mayor Mustafa Kamal claimed before the court that Karachi is being provided 1.51 per cent of the water from Sindh’s share.
Kamal said providing safe water and solving sewerage issues is the job of local governments — not the chief minister’s.
He said the population of Karachi will exceed 30 million by 2020 and the city demands 1,250 million gallons of water on a daily basis.
Kamal recommended that water supply projects K-I, II and IV be started simultaneously to save costs.
He said he had drafted the legal master plan of Karachi in 2007, which did not exist earlier.
Addressing the issue of Mehmoodabad treatment plant land, Kamal denied allotting the land to anyone, saying he didn’t have the powers to do so. The 149.1 acre land was allotted with the approval of the City Council.
Supreme Court of Pakistan also ordered Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah to investigate the matter of Mehmoodabad treatment plant land allotment issue. The court has directed CM Sindh to investigate how much land was allocated for Medhmoodabad treatment plant and whether there was any extra land. The court has directed CM Sindh to investigate the matter of passage of resolution by City Council for allocation of Mehmoodabad treatment plant land to settle the affectees of Pready Street and whether City Council had enjoyed any authority to pass this kind of resolution. The court has summoned the report from chief minister Sindh along with documentary evidence. Chief justice said that the investigations should be held how the allocated land of treatment plant-2 was allotted. Chief justice said that the court should be informed about the facts that to whom the land was transferred. The court said that the investigations should be held that how much land was allocated for Mehmoodabad treatment plant and how much land was allotted illegally. The court has also summoned reply from Secretary Local Government Sindh over the matter.
Justice Sajjad Ali Shah in his remarks said that the City Council had no authority to pass resolution for lease of land or allotment of land of Mehmoodabad treatment plant then how this resolution was passed.
Former city nazim Karachi Syed Mustafa Kamal said he has not done anything wrong while allocating land for the affectees of Pready Street. Upon this chief justice said if any illegality will be proved against Mustafa Kamal then action would be taken against him and he is hopeful that Mustafa Kamal will face the action. The court had summoned Mustafa kamal over the allotment of Mehmoodabad treatment plant. The court said it will summon Mustafa Kamal again upon arising need. He said the City Council had allotted land to compensate 1218 houses which were destroyed for the construction of Pready Street.
The court has directed the Chief Minister Sindh to submit written reply over the water commission report mentioning that the water issues would be resolved in whole Sindh in this specific time. The court has also summoned undertaking from chief minister regarding the matter. The court has summoned report from chief minister Sindh till 23rd December. Chief justice said that the court will continue to summon chief minister Sindh until and unless the water and pollution issues are resolved.
Later, the apex court adjourned the hearing until December 23, directing the chief minister to submitt a written response on the issues facing the government on the matter of water contamination.