ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for Water Faisal Vawda Monday alleged that water was being stolen in Sindh while people of Karachi were being intentionally kept thirsty and deprived of water.

“In Karachi, you meet your requirement by purchasing water, where this water comes from? It means that there is enough water, but it is not being provided to the citizens,” said the federal minister while addressing a press conference here.

Rejecting Sindh politicians’ narrative of water shortage in the province, the minister said that there was enough water in the province, however; the landlords wanted to keep Karachi dry. He warned that he would stop the water of all such landlords who wanted to keep Karachi dry and would snatch greenery of their fields. He said that water was being stolen in an organised manner and there were underground canals for provision of water to the industries.

The minister alleged that Karachi Water Board officials were making Rs5 million daily by selling the water. The minister said that a task force was being set up to check water theft. 

On Dasu Dam, Vawda said that the World Bank had expressed serious concerns over two years of delay in construction work on run-of-river Dasu Hydropower Stage-I project and warned that the loan of $3.787 billion, which it has approved in June 2014, could get lapsed. The project’s completion date was June 2021. He said that the previous government had claimed that they had completed land acquisition for Dasu, but currently, against the required 12,000 acres, we have only 740 acres (7 percent) of land in hand. The nation has to bear its fallouts and we have to resolve the issue, he added.

He further said that steering committee meeting with the World Bank was pending for the last many months and on Monday (October 22) after visiting the Bank and discussing the issues; we held the committee meeting and cleared the NOC of the Bank. We have made the plan on war footings and going for its (land) acquisition. All possibilities would be exploited to curtail the losses, he said.

“We are incurring Rs300 million losses per day on this project since the previous government left the charge. The previous government always took the steps to deprive the province (KP) of the benefits and get kick backs and delay the project,” the minister said. The minister revealed that on November 6, a meeting has been called in Peshawar to resolve the Dasu Dam issue.

“The indirect impacts are that you have to import LNG of $1.4 billion and there is a loss of Rs112 billion/year to the economy. These are indirect losses other than those Rs300 million”, he said. He further said that we are working on strengthening our system.

“We have taken Dasu project on priority and war footing and would try to complete the project by 2022 or 2023, as we are already two years behind the schedule,” Vawda said.

Replying to a query, the minister said that ‘we have discussed funds of World Bank’s Water Sector Capacity Building and Advisory Services Project with the WB and its appropriate utilisation for maximum benefits,”. He said that the matters of years were being addressed within days.

Regarding telemetry system, he said that the previous government closed the system through verbal orders. Till date, all these equipment are closed, which is an eye opener for Pakistanis, he said. Now, nobody can know that how much water a province is extracting from the system, he said.

He said, “In my domain, despite having no money, I am ready to install telemetry system by generating the funds. For this, we have proposed a task force and will take chief ministers and law enforcement agencies on board.

Replying to a query on water theft, the minister alleged that Karachi Water and Sewerage Board officials were involved in water theft. The province is giving to federal government as fee of one million rupees, while Rs880 million is overdue against the province under the head of electricity charges and others. They want to take me on back foot, and make me part of it [theft]. In Sindh, landlords and politicians are involved in water theft and I am exposing them. They are trying to blackmail me and have now started; saying that I am dual nationality holder; the person should come in front and set with me on table. If I was proved guilty, punish me thousand times more than a common man but if proved clear, then the person should also be punished. I am ready to present my three generations for accountability, no government service, no government land and no bank loan.

Before the 18th Amendment, they were eating up the country, and now their respective provinces, he alleged. In this amendment, there are many good clauses, but it should be open for debate and discussion to be beneficial for Pakistan and provinces. There is need of readjustment, he said.

“We have written letter to KSWB for meeting to resolve the issues, but the MD of the board has no time to meet us, because he is getting Rs5 million bribe a day,” he alleged. However, he appreciated Sindh Minister Saeed Ghani for his support in controlling the illegal hydrants.   

Regarding Darawat Dam in Jamshoro, Sindh, he said that it was completed with Rs11 billion. The feasibility was for 25,000 acres of land but in reality it was built only on 10,000 acres. The provincial government has to pay the centre Rs1 billion pending for the last 8 years. “We have called in its feasibility”, he said.