KWSB not contacted for high-rise NOCs in 11 years, SC told

CS, AG given a week to submit report on efforts to streamline water supply


For the past 11 years now, the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) has not been contacted by authorities sanctioning construction of high-rise buildings, the water utility’s managing director informed the Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday.

The issue came up after a three-member bench, hearing applications regarding operation of illegal water hydrants and water shortage in city, asked the KWSB MD, Misbahuddin Farid, to name the water utility’s official responsible for issuing NOCs for high-rises.

The bench, headed by Justice Amir Hani Muslim, during the hearing asked the provincial chief secretary and advocate general for a second time to submit a progress report with respect to measures taken to resolve the city’s water crisis and improve the KWSB’s working; the directives were given in the previous hearing as well.

The chief secretary was also asked to streamline the city’s water supply and shortage issues within a week or the court would be liable to constitute a committee comprising district judges to deal with the issues.

Justice Hani questioned the availability of water for thousands of tankers but not for the city. The court observed that concerned authorities created a false perception of there being a shortage of water in the city and that it was in fact their ill-governance in supplying and distributing water.

“On who does the responsibility lay for a poor man being compelled to buy mineral water to drink because the water pipelines to his house ran dry?” observed Justice Khilji Arif Hussain while questioning the KWSB MD.

To a court’s query regarding operation of hydrants, Farid submitted that hydrants were allowed to operate on an emergency basis after the city was hit by a severe heat wave and that KWSB was not interested in continuing with their contracts anymore. Farid further submitted that some of the hydrants were being allowed to operate since the government was yet to pay their outstanding dues.

The KWSB MD admitted that water was being pilfered owing to an outdated water supply structure, the brunt of which was being borne by residents of areas located at the city’s tail end. Responding to court’s query regarding there being more electricity consumers than water and that meters bought a decade ago were yet to be installed, the MD observed that meters would be installed and steps to update the existing water supply and distribution system would be taken.

Justice Hani observed that the K-IV project would not upgrade the water supply system and that there was a need to upgrade the existing supply and distribution system.

The court further observed that water supply lines were not maintained by the board resulting isn frequently ruptures. “Had they regularly been maintained such problems would not have been occurring.”

The court granted a week’s time to the Sindh government and KWSB to improve the water utility’s working otherwise the court would appoint judicial officers to monitor the system.

With respect to pending litigations regarding operation of hydrants, the court observed that the court had not restrained anyone from taking action against hydrants, and directed the chief secretary, advocate general Sindh and KWSB to submit list of cases pending in the high court within a week in order to resolve issues at the earliest.