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SC orders immediate closure of illegal hydrants in Karachi.

Byline: Naeem Sahoutara

KARACHI -- The Supreme Court (SC) rejected on Thursday appeals filed by operators of private water hydrants established without a legal cover in Karachi.

Headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, a three-judge bench at the SC's Karachi Registry also directed the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) managing director (MD) to furnish his personal affidavit swearing that no more illegal hydrants will be allowed to be set up and operate in the metropolis.

'Illegal water hydrants will not be tolerated in the city,' observed the CJP while hearing a suo motu case regarding operations of illegal and unauthorised water hydrants in the city. The bench also comprised Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah.

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Advocate-General (AG) Barrister Zamir Ghumro informed the court that the recovery of the water utility had increased by up to Rs80 million after the closures of illegal hydrants in the city. To this, the CJP remarked why the provincial government was taking credit for it as the hydrants were closed after the SC took notice of the issue.

The AG also informed the court that new rates for private water tankers had officially been prescribed recently, adding that the draft rules to run the water hydrants will also be presented in the cabinet for approval.

KWSB MD Syed Hashim Raza Zaidi filed a report informing the SC that 187 illegal hydrants were dismantled with the help of the Rangers and police, while 2,130 illegal connections from the main water supply pipelines had also been cut down.

Zaidi added that cases against 137 suspects were also registered at relevant police stations, including 44 cases at the Saeedabad police station and 37, 27 and four cases at Manghopir, Pirabad and SITE-A police stations respectively.

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Zaidi further informed the apex court that 265 persons were arrested during operation against the water theft, adding that four violators were convicted and awarded sentences under the law while 14 were acquitted by the courts. The charge-sheets in 125 cases had also been filed in the relevant courts, he said.

The CJP inquired from the AG whether action was taken against KWSB official Rashid Siddique who was involved in illegal activities. The KWSB MD replied that action against the official had been taken and he had been demoted.

The CJP directed Zaidi to furnish his personal affidavit, swearing on oath that no illegal hydrant will be allowed to run in the metropolis. The KWSB MD maintained that illegal hydrants were set up in the city but the board initiated action whenever operation of any illegal hydrant came to its knowledge.

'It is your duty to stop the illegal hydrants,' the top judge observed. He directed Zaidi to furnish a personal affidavit to the effect that any officer in whose area any illegal hydrant was established in future, Zaidi will be held responsible and proceeded against according to the law.

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Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MPA Syed Hafeezuddin informed the court that a parallel system of water supply, which involved water theft, was being run in the industrial zones. He claimed that water was being provided to factories through illegal connections.

The bench directed the KWSB MD to take action against factories getting excessive water through illegal connections. 'The wells will not be allowed to be dug up,' he remarked, ordering that all the illegal hydrants, whether they were providing sweet water or salty, will remain shut.

A lawyer representing the hydrants operators pleaded to the court that such order would lead to the closure of factories. 'We will not tolerate the theft of water,' the CJP told him. The top judge added that the hydrants' owners could file cases against the water board to claim damages if they wished to.

The bench directed the KWSB MD to immediately act against those factories which were getting undue quantity of water through illegal connections.
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Publication:The Express Tribune (Karachi, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Dec 8, 2017
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