KARACHI - Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar has said that the latest Supreme Court (SC) decision on the poor performance of various departments, including Sindh Solid Waste Management Board (SWMB) and Water Board and North Sindh Urban Services Corporation (NSUSC), has given an opportunity to the Sindh government to return to the local government the powers it is entitled to under the constitution.  Addressing a press conference at his office here on Tuesday, he regretted, “Had the stakeholders been consulted or provided the opportunity to serve the people, the situation would not have come to such a pass that SC had to give such a judgment.”

He was accompanied by DMC East chairman, DMC Korangi chairman, DMC Central vice chairman Shakir Ali, parliamentary leader in the City Council Aslam Shah Afridi, parliamentary leader from PTI Firdous Naqvi, from JUI Junaid Mukati, from ANP Alam Zaib Aalai, from JUI Akbar Hashmi, from PML-N Amanullah Afridi and local government representatives.

“If the government does not pay heed to our requests then it should at least pay attention to the SC’s observations,” he stressed. Wasim said that all parties in the City Council were with us on city issues. “We want to erase the label of bad governance from the Sindh government by providing it help and support,” he added.

Reading out excerpts from the SC judgment CP 38/16, dated March 16 2017, he said it clearly made the provincial government bound to act accordingly and dissolve the SWM Board immediately and assign functions of the Board to local councils without any further delay.

“This judgment clearly shows that SC has serious concerns over the working of the SWM Board,” Wasim said and quoted the judges as saying: “We are very much disturbed.”

“Instead of making improvements in the aforesaid functions of the local bodies in addition to announcing budgetary allocations, the Sindh government introduced the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board Act, 2014, which assigned most of the functions, which the sanitary workers of the local bodies were to perform and for which they were paid salaries on regular basis,” the mayor added.

“Supreme Court further says that huge amount is spent on SWM without a result. Every year, an amount of Rs350 million is allocated for the Board, out of which Rs200 million are spent on the payment of salaries whereas Rs150 million are spent on non-salary account. The Board has not done anything till date to remedy the agonies of the people except on papers where it is shown to be active,” Wasim elaborated.

Further quoting the apex court’s observations about the working of SWM Board, the mayor said, “The ground reality is that this Board is replica of the NSUSC, which was drawing handsome amounts from Asian Development Bank and the Sindh Government and prima facie these amounts were misused and abused by the Management of NSUSC. The In-charge of Sindh Solid Waste Management Board was heard by us. We are not impressed by his skills and expertise as he has no administrative experience of the job description.”

“Thus, the SC has shown complete distrust in the MD by saying that his skills or expertise are not impressive as he does not have any administrative experience,” Wasim said, and added the SC had further observed, “If this Board is allowed to exist, it would be a permanent liability of the Sindh government. The report of the Commission is a charge sheet with regard to the working of various departments in the Sindh government, including the Solid Waste Management Board which has failed to deliver even though the management is drawing salaries in million of rupees and a substantial amount is being paid for non-salary expenses.” 

Thus, the SC has decided that “We under these circumstances are compelled to observe that this Court has serious reservations with regard to the continuation of Sindh Solid Waste Management Board programs, which has failed to deliver in any part of Sindh including Karachi, and as the government continues to also pay to local government departments for the same work. Such amounts need to be utilised by strengthening the departments which are meant for the aforesaid job.”

Wasim said, “SC has also cautioned against running SWM Board as a parallel department in the following words”: “Running a parallel organisation to perform the same function leads to bad governance and lack of responsibility and accountability, which is sadly the order of the day, as clearly demonstrated from the material collected by the Commission and by viewing the recordings. SC concludes in the following words: “Experiments should end now. The non- functional Board which has never performed should be dissolved by transferring its functions to the local bodies as provided under the Rules of Business.”

The mayor said the Council of Karachi had taken a serious view of the situation, and it was to meet shortly to discuss the situation and develop a comprehensive policy so that the issue of solid waste management could be resolved in the best interests of Karachiites.

“We aim to help the Government of Sindh by extending our support and developing a policy so that the people of Karachi should not suffer,” he stated.

He further said, “We also caution the Government of Sindh that if our suggestions are not listened to, we reserve our right to approach the SC or the Water Commission, which has been assigned the powers of a high court for the implementation of this order.”

Wasim went on to say, “We believe that the observations of SC are in line with the aspirations of the people of Karachi and they (people of Karachi) believe that this judgment will pave the way for the elimination of the years’ long problem of solid waste management and they will be able to have cleaner and better environment in Karachi.”

On the occasion, a member of the City Council, from Jamat-e-Islami, Junaid Mukati demanded the announcement of budget of Rs500 billion for Karachi and also devolution of powers to the union councils while other parliamentary leaders from different parties also expressed their views and supported the stance of the Karachi mayor.