KARACHI - The opposition parties in Sindh Assembly on Monday warned the provincial government that if water issues are not resolved then it could lead to unrest in Karachi. Minister for Local Government Saeed Ghani has, however, asked the opposition parties to sit together and devise a joint strategy to overcome the issue.

The issue was discussed during three adjournment motions from MQM-P lawmakers Kanwar Naveed, Nadeem Siddiqui and Javed Hanif clubbed together on water shortage in Karachi, Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas areas of the province during the provincial assembly proceedings.      

Speaking on the adjournment motion, the mover and the MQM-P Parliamentary Leader Kanwar Naveed Jamil said that a large part of Karachi population consumes one-third of its salary on purchasing water. “The total water supply is 450 mgd as compared to the need of 1100 mgd and there are areas in the city that faces water shortage for 50 straight days,” he said adding that these areas include from posh areas of Clifton to slum areas in Orangi Town.

Suggesting a solution to resolve water issues, he said that the distribution system should be devised in such a manner so that the areas receiving water after two days and those after 50 days could be somewhat brought towards equality.

He said that the government’s tall claims on completion of K-IV project are far beyond reality and the FWO briefing given to a MQM-P delegation has revealed other side of the story. “Out of five major components for completion of the project, work is only ongoing on two of them that are installation of pumping station and laying down pipeline,” he informed and further added that the route of pipelines was changed 21 times causing delay to the project.

He further warned that if any unrest is created over water shortage in the city then it would not only affect the city but also the entire province and also the economy of the country.

Another mover from MQM-P and jailed lawmaker, Javed Hanif said that the government has allocation for useless projects but it is unable to earmark an amount for revamping of pumping stations supplying water to the city and a water supply project at Haleji Lake to Karachi.

“I will call it a biased against Karachi,” he said adding that the PPP stronghold Lyari even do not have the proper water supply.

He asked as to why government could not install filter plants at Indus River to supply water to the people of Hyderabad. “If the government cannot fulfill its responsibilities then it should leave,” he said.

Opposition leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi said that provision of drinking water is key issue of the province and failure to resolve it is a shame for rulers and all parties.

He however, criticised the provincial government over its failure to devise strategy to tackle with the issue and said that even the budget do not has any concrete steps to address the issue.

“It’s almost 11 years since PPP is in power and if water issue is not resolved then it could lead to unrest in the province especially in Karachi,” he said.

He also claimed that the chief minister Sindh has attended four CCI meetings but has not raised the water shortage issue in any of the meetings. “Why the chief minister is not taking the house into confidence over this important issue,” he asked.

PTI lawmaker Khurram Sher Zaman demanded to handover water supply distribution to Rangers or Pakistan Army and also asked the chief justice of Pakistan to take notice over delay in K-IV project-that is lifeline water supply project for Karachi.

“If this issue is not resolved then the time is not far away when people will fight over water distribution,” he said and added that if Karachi will be on protest then this government could not be run for a single day.

He also blamed corruption for water shortage and said that the ministers were unable to give satisfactory responses over the distribution through tankers and water theft.

Former opposition leader Khwaja Izhar said that Karachi uses least water resource as most of them are household users rather than using for cultivation or other commercial purposes. “Still the city faces acute water shortage due to an artificial shortage,” he said.

He further blamed the Sindh government for lying on K-IV project and said that with this speed the project would likely be able to complete in 2028.

While responding to opposition lawmakers’ criticism on chief minister for not raising water shortage issue at Council of Common Interest, Minister for Local Bodies Saeed Ghani said that the chief minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah has raised the issue at all relevant forums and is amongst the most active chief ministers of the country.

He said that the PPPP has never denied that there is no water shortage and said that most of the issue is due to the less rainfall and shortage of water in Hub Dam. “If there is enough rainfall then water shortage issue in Hub Dam would be resolved,” he said and further offered the opposition parties to sit together for a joint solution over the issue.

He said that there are five water schemes for Karachi and Hyderabad and an allocation of Rs 6 billion was also earmarked for the current fiscal year. He further expressed the resolve of the provincial government to complete the K-IV bulk water supply project in one and a half year and said that although the federal government had to give its share to complete the project but if the funds would not come then they would complete it on their own.    

“We need more water for Karachi and the opposition parties should also help the provincial government in excess water supply to the city from federal government,” he said.

Former provincial minister Imdad Pitafi said that even the rural areas of the province are facing water shortage and the growers are facing losses due to failure in provision of water to tail end.

MMA lawmaker Syed Abdul Rasheed said that the IRSA has rejected a proposal to bring excess water to the city and now it is the responsibility of federal water resources minister Faisal Vawda-who is elected from Baldia- to pursue the matter and ensure excess water for the city.

He said that Lyari has several dysfunctional RO plants and the water supply of the area is being diverted to commercial sites.  Lamenting mineral water companies, the lawmaker said that they give minimal amounts to government and earn maximum profits. 

The house also sent three bills to the select committees after introduction in the house. They included Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Institute of Trauma at Karachi Bill, 2018; Sindh Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases Bill, 2018 and Sindh Institute of Child Health and Neonatology Bill, 2018. The committees comprise of seven members with four representing treasury benches and three from opposition side.

The house also took four call attention notices. Among on such pertaining to sugarcane crushing in the province, the agriculture minister said that although they are unable to reach consensus over sugar cane pricing but the crushing season would begun from November 30. 

The house proceedings were later prorogued after the speaker read out the message from Governor Sindh Imran Ismail.