KARACHI - Human waste is purposefully being added to water, observed Chief Justice Saqib Nisar during Wednesday’s hearing of the water pollution case.
Upon summoning by the court, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and former Karachi mayor Mustafa Kamal arrived at Supreme Court’s Karachi registry to appear before the bench hearing the case.
The CJP told CM Shah that official posts were there to serve people and not for enjoyment, as he urged him to rid Sindh people of contaminated drinking water.
In July, a report submitted to the Supreme Court stated that 90 percent of drinking water samples collected from Karachi were unfit for human consumption and a significant portion was tainted with human waste.
The chief justice observed that the water situation in Sindh is troublesome, adding that the chief minister has been summoned so he can resolve the situation.
“If you say, we both can go drink and check the quality of water from any stream in Mithi,” Justice Saqib remarked while addressing Murad Shah. He added: “I wish [PPP leader] Bilawal Bhutto Zardari knew of the water situation in Larkana”.
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.
Cheif Minister Murad Ali Shah claimed that the water crisis was not as extreme as shown by the petitioner, adding that “if I get an opportunity I will show my video [on water situation] to the court”.
He was referring to a short video by petitioner Shahab Usto which was shown earlier in court through a projector.
Usto had informed the court that the citizens were being provided unfiltered and hazardous water. He added that people of Sindh’s 29 districts were compelled to drink polluted water.
The chief minister said that the provincial government was working to resolve the issue, however, it was facing shortage of funds.
Shah claimed that 100 percent water supplied to Lahore, 73 percent in Sheikhupura and 88 percent in Sargodha was 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.
About the matter of air pollution, he said it is making life miserable for the masses and deadly diseases like cancer are spreading due to it.
The CJP 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 was 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. He also announced to determine the persons responsible behind the bad water situation, but in the second phase.
Later, the apex court adjourned the hearing until December 23, directing the chief minister to submit a written response on the issues facing the government on the matter of water contamination.
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 percent of the total water supplied to Sindh.
He said K-3 and K-4 projects were introduced during his tenure, adding that the projects even after their completion would not meet the city’s water requirement.
Separately, while addressing journalists after the hearing, Kamal said that that Karachi is facing an acute [600 MGD] shortage of drinking water.
He added that the completion date for K-3 and K-4 given by the government is 2018, whereas according to his knowledge, the projects will not be completed even in four-year time.
In the last court proceedings of the case, the chief justice had remarked during the last hearing that those who make tall claims before people have been unable to provide clear drinking water.
He had said life was being affected in Sindh and Punjab due to pollution caused by factories, adding that the court would not compromise on the issue of water and air pollution.
“This is a matter of people’s lives, it cannot be ignored. The [Sindh] chief minister will be asked about all the steps he has taken in this regard,” he said.
The chief justice also remarked that the judiciary must intervene when the government fails to fulfil its responsibilities.
When Murad Ali Shah arrived at the court on Wednesday, he was asked by a journalist that whether he was prepared for the case or not. “God will be kind,” Shah had replied.