Contaminated water issue to be resolved at the earliest: CM

Karachi – Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that he has directed the departments concerned to resolve the issue of contaminated water supply all over Sindh.

He was informally talking to media during his visit to Jahangir Park on Wednesday evening.

He was accompanied by Minister for Local Government Jam Khan Shoro and Senator Murtaza Wahab on the occasion.

The chief minister said that as a chief minister he could avail exemption from appearing in the Supreme Court. “But I thought that the apex court was working hard to resolve the contaminated water issue in the province and furthermore since it is the issue that relates to people, therefore I decided I must appear in the court and I did,” he said, and hoped that the issue would be resolved in minimum time period.

Replying to a question, the CM said that he had identified 726 major points all over Sindh from where domestic waste and affluent was released into distributaries and canals. “We have introduced schemes under which plants would be installed to treat the domestic waste and affluent before releasing these into the water, and this would cost Rs3.586 billion,” he said, and added that in the first phase treatment work would start at 221 points and would cost Rs800 million and he had released Rs400 million; means 50 percent of the total allocation.

The chief minister said that water testing laboratories were being set up in 23 districts for which he had approved an amount of Rs105 million.

He added that there were 953 non-functional water supply and RO plants schemes. “I have sanctioned Rs4.9 billion to make them functional again and work on most of these schemes has already begun,” the chief minister informed.

Replying to a question, he said that the documentary shown in the Supreme Court on untreated effluent, being released into the water bodies and canals was one-sided production. “It was an old documentary and now the situation is quite different,” Murad said, and added that he had told the honourable court that work on drainage scheme in Shikarpur was in full swing. “The drainage system in the city has improved considerably, while another drainage scheme to cost Rs1406 million was also in progress in Larkana so that untreated waste water could not be released into Rive Canal,” the CM said, and added, “A similar scheme was also underway in Mirpurkhas. We are working hard to stop the release of waste water, industrial waste and effluent into canals, but it would take some time to resolve the issue completely because lot of funds are required for the purpose.”

Replying to another question, Murad said that the Supreme Court had ordered him to order an inquiry into alleged illegal allotment of the land belonging to Treatment Plant-II (TP-II) in the tenure of former city nazim. “Just after returning from the court, I have directed the chief secretary to issue inquiry orders,” he said.

Replying to another question, the chief minister said that the Supreme Court had taken up the issue of water being released downstream Kotri and said it was the waste of water.

He added that he had informed the apex court that the release of water downstream Kotri was necessary to stop sea intrusion. “The sea has already encroached upon the sweet land of Thatta and Badin. “We feel still essential water is not being released to save delta and stop sea encroachment,” he admitted.

To yet another question, the chief minister said that the Supreme Court had also appreciated the services of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) for making the 1973 constitution. “I am quite satisfied and relieved that the court that had sent ZAB to the gallows has appreciated that he had given a best constitution to the country,” he said.

The chief minister, while talking about the K-IV project, said that the federal government had agreed to share 50 percent cost of the project of worth Rs25 billion and so far it had released only Rs3 billion. “As a matter of fact, the cost of the project has gone up to Rs33 billion, including Rs5 billion of land acquisition,” he disclosed. Murad said that Sindh could not be singled out since the state of contaminated drinking water and insanitary system was more or less the same across Pakistan.

He also quoted Pakistan Social & Living Standards Measurement (PSLM) Survey of 2014-15 which shows percentage distribution of source water. “In Sindh 41 percent households use tap water, 33 percent hand pump, 11 percent motor pump while four percent use well water, while in Punjab 18 percent households use tap water, 28 percent hand pump, 45 percent motor pump and one percent well water,” he added.

Murad said that the report showed that the condition in Sindh was not as bad as being painted.

He went on to say that unfortunately Sindh was at the lower end; receiving river water contaminated with all kinds of effluent from the provinces upstream. “Studies show that several industrial cities, including Faisalabad, unleash untreated effluent in the River Indus,” he said.

Talking about water quality status in major cities of the country, the CM told the court that 69 percent people of Pakistan drank unsafe water.

He quoted Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources, Ministry of Science report, which says people in Punjab drink 69 percent unsafe water, in KP 47 percent, in Balochistan 81 percent and in Sindh 81 percent. “This means it is a national issue and must be solved holistically,” he argued.

The chief minister, replying to another question, said that his government was committed to resolving the contaminated water issue for which work was needed with sincerity and commitment.

Later, he visited Empress Market, Bohri Bazaar and other areas of Saddar and met with shopkeepers, vendors and common men and listened to their problems.  He also posed for selfies with them and had a morsel of biryani at a shop.

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