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Supply of poisonous water

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The Supreme Court has told the Punjab chief secretary to fix responsibility on Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) officers who have failed to supply clean water to the citizens of Rawalpindi despite clear directions of the court regarding the matter two years ago.

The court issued the directions while hearing a case on the supply of poisonous water to citizens of the twin cities on Tuesday. A three-member bench, consisting of Chief Justice (CJ) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Tariq Parvez and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, heard a two-year-old suo motu notice that was taken on the request of a local resident, Raza Ahmad Shah.

The court observed that the Punjab government had failed to understand how to deal with environmental issue, as the matter of environment had been referred to the provinces after the 18th Amendment.

The court ordered the Cabinet Division secretary, as well as secretaries of all relevant provincial departments, to ensure installment of water treatment plants for the supply of clean water within 30 days.

The Supreme Court also directed the chief secretary to ensure provision of clean water to people across the province and appointed environmental tribunal for the protection of environment laws. Earlier, the court on September 3, 2010, had directed the Cabinet Division secretary and other stakeholders, including the Capital Development Authority (CDA), Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), Murree Tehsil Municipal Administration, Pakistan Environment Protection Agency and the Water and Sanitation Agency, to prepare a comprehensive report regarding the issue of dumping waste into the twin cities’ primary reservoir, however not much came out of that exercise.

The court observed that no one was ready to realise that poor citizens, who could not afford mineral water, were using unclean water, which was causing several diseases. It also observed that no efforts were made to stop the mixing of sewage water in Rawal Lake, from where water was being supplied to the citizen of Rawalpindi. “All efforts were made in the papers and files,” it added.

The court said that action should be taken against the housing societies responsible for laying sewage lines in the Rawal Lake. “Why are you people so much afraid of the owners of housing societies?” it asked.

During the hearing, the court expressed its annoyance over the WASA managing director, who had given false statement before the bench. The court adjourned the hearing until May 7.