KARACHI: Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Wednesday said Sindh cannot be singled out since the predicament of contaminated drinking water and unsanitary system are the same across Pakistan.
The chief minister while speaking informally to media during his visit to Jahangir Park in Saddar after appearing before the Supreme Court said that he has set a direction to resolve the issue of contaminated water and hoped it would be resolved in minimum time period.
He said that although he was exempted from appearing before the Supreme Court, but instead he showed up as the issue of contaminated water was related to the well-being of the people.
CM Sindh said that the condition in Sindh is as not as bad as being painted. He went on saying that unfortunately Sindh is at the lower end, receiving river water contaminated with all kinds of effluent from provinces upstream. “Studies show that several industrial cities including Faisalabad unleash untreated affluent in the River Indus,” he said.
He quoted Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement (PSLM) Survey of 2014-15 which shows percentage distribution of water by house hold. In Sindh 41 percent households use tap water, 33 percent hand pump, 11 percent motor pump and four percent dug well water, while in Punjab 18 percent households use tap water, 28 percent hand pump, 45 percent motor pump and one percent dug wells.
Talking about status of water quality in major cities of the country, CM Sindh said he informed the court that 69 percent people of Pakistan drink unsafe water. He quoted report from Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources, Ministry of Science which states that Punjab drinks 69 percent unsafe water, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 47 percent, and Balochistan and Sindh 81 percent each.
Replying to a question, CM Sindh said 726 major points have been identified across Sindh from where domestic waste and affluent is released into distributaries and canals. He announced that there are plan to set up sewage treatment schemes at the cost of Rs3.586 billion.
The chief minister said that water testing laboratories are being established in 23 districts worth Rs105 million. He added that there were 953 non-functional water supply and RO plants schemes, which would be made operational at the cost of Rs4.9 billion.
He said that the documentary shown in the Supreme Court on untreated effluent being released in the water bodies and canals was “one sided-production” and now the situation is quite different.
He said that the apex court has been informed that a drainage scheme for Shikarpur worth Rs505 million was in full swing, while another in Larkana worth Rs1.4 billion was also in progress.
“We are working hard to stop release of waste water, industrial waste and affluent into canals but it would take some time to resolve the issue properly because funds are required for the purpose,” he said.
Replying to another question, CM Sindh said he has directed to conduct an inquiry against former city Nazim for illegal allotment of the land belonging to Treatment Plant-II (TP-II) as ordered by the Supreme Court.
He said that the Supreme Court took up the issue of water being released downstream Kotri saying that it was waste of water. He added that he told the court that the release of water was necessary to stop sea intrusion as the sea has already encroached lands of Thatta and Badin. “We feel still essential water was not being released to save delta and stop sea encroachment,” he said.
The chief minister talking about K-IV project said that the federal government had agreed to share fifty percent cost of Rs25 billion project but has released only Rs3 billion. The cost of the project has gone to Rs33 billion including Rs5 billion for land acquisition.
He said that this the issue of water contamination was a national issue and must be solved holistically adding that his government was committed to resolve the contaminated water issue for which work with sincerity and commitment was in progress.