islamabad - The members of Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad on Thursday rejected a summary aimed at regularizing illegal water hydrants in the capital city, saying it is an attempt to safeguard the interests of the tanker mafia active in the city.

The session of the MCI was called to get a nod from the members for regularization of illegal water hydrants and issuing NOC for new hydrants. However, the members rejected the proposals. The members from both treasury and opposition benches opposed the summary and criticized the MCI and CDA administration for the haste in which the endorsement was sought. Opposition leader Ali Awan said that the members had been crying over the water issue for the last two years but no one had paid heed to it. He said the administration, under pressure from the Supreme Court, summoned three meetings of the Corporation in one month which had asked the concerned authorities to take measures to overcome water crisis in the capital. He said that by regularizing the illegal water hydrants and issuing NOC for new hydrants, the administration was promoting water tanker mafia in the city. He questioned why the MCI and CDA do not install their own hydrants to provide water to the residents without hassle. He suggested that the MCI must seal illegal water hydrants in the city before installing its own hydrants.

The members believed that the administration prepared a summary overnight for the regularization of illegal hydrants to dodge the apex court and added that no chairman of the union councils was shown and shared the summary with before the meeting. They questioned how they could approve a summary which they did not go through. They said the Corporation administration wanted to release the Supreme Court’s pressure by getting approved a summary which is neither resident-friendly nor has any moral standing. They said the agenda points also did not mention that approval of the members would be sought on the issue. Deputy Mayor Riffat Javed chaired the meeting as Mayor was not present on the occasion.

As the members did not agree to the proposals pertaining to regularization of illegal commercial hydrants and ground water boring by imposing surcharge, the meeting rejected the summary submitted by the administration. As the treasury members opposed the summary, the opposition members staged a walkout to record their protest over the proposal.

 Director Water Supply Nasir Jameel Butt told the meeting that as per the summary, one can get an NOC for the water hydrant against a fee of Rs 100,000. He further told the meeting that the citizens could get a water tanker against a maximum of Rs 2000 while the local police would keep a check and balance on the hydrants. Upon this, the members held that the MCI has failed in performing its functions and promoting the private hydrants mafia.

MCI member Azhar Mahmood lamented that the administration of MCI was active in safeguarding the interests of private water tanker owners. He said there are dozens of illegal water hydrants in the city against whom the Corporation has not taken any action. He posed a question to the administration that against how many illegal hydrants the MCI and CDA has so far taken action and sealed the illegal water bores. He said the MCI high ups should admit before the apex court that they were patronizing the ‘water thieves’ [private tanker mafia]. He said the mafia has illegally occupied CDA land by installing water hydrants there and minting money but no one is there to take action against them.

Treasury members Sardar Mahtab and Naeem Gujjar said that they have never seen a positive outcome of the MCI meetings. They complained that MCI and CDA, instead of discouraging the private hydrants, were promoting them for illegal gains.

Chief Metropolitan Officer Najaf Iqbal told the meeting that the apex court had given them just two days time to submit a report on the issue of water scarcity in the city and added due to scarcity of time, they could not take the members into confidence on the issue. The members rejected his plea and said that the administration must not use their shoulder to mislead the court. They said the MCI and CDA have no record of illegal water hydrants in the city and instead of a crackdown against them, they are going to regularize them. Upon walkout by the opposition members from the house, the deputy chairman adjourned the meeting due to lack of quorum.