SC irked by govt’s failure to make reverse osmosis plants operational
KARACHI: The Supreme Court (SC) expressed on Wednesday displeasure over the provincial government’s failure to make the reverse osmosis (RO) plants near Manchhar Lake functional and complete the Right Bank Outfall Drain (RBOD) project.
A two-judge bench, headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed, granted the provincial advocate-general (AG) two days to submit details of the current status of the RO plants and RBOD project.
While hearing a suo motu case regarding contamination of water in one of Asia’s largest freshwater reservoirs, the judges were irked when they were informed that the RO plants meant to provide clean drinking water to the fishermen community were non-functional, while salaries were also not being paid to their staff.
The bench inquired from AG Zamir Ghumro why the government had no money to pay salaries to staff when it was apparently spending billions of rupees on the project. The AG informed the apex court that the administrative control of the RO plants was being transferred from a private company, Pak Oasis, to the provincial public health engineering department, which delayed the salaries. He assured that the matter will be resolved soon.
The judges told the law officer that they were hearing the matter so that problems faced by the people are addressed rather than multiplied. The bench observed that such issues should immediately be resolved without any delay.
AG Ghumro informed the SC that only three out of the 39 RO plants installed around Manchhar Lake were not functioning.
A deputy attorney-general for the federal government informed the bench that the RBOD project had been approved at a recent meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council and will be executed within the stipulated time.
The bench directed the AG and DAG to submit reports within two days on the current operational status of the RO plants and the RBOD project.
Thatta forest lands
Meanwhile, the same bench directed a Thatta district and sessions judge to carry out inspection of forest lands in Thatta district and submit a report within a week.
The provincial government had approached the apex court pleading to order action against the ‘mafia’ that had allegedly encroached upon the forest lands.
An additional advocate-general informed the apex court that the government had allotted 186 acres of agricultural land to landless citizens (haris) but some private persons had encroached upon the nearby forest land. He alleged that the encroachers were not allowing the forest department to use the lands for forestation purposes and pleaded to the court to order their eviction from the forest land.