- CJP criticises Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari for ‘doing nothing’ to ‘prioritise water issues’
- Top court orders Aitzaz Ahsan to submit recommendations on water crisis by 21st
- Justice Nisar orders bulldozing of unclaimed properties in Islamabad
ISLAMABAD: The country’s top court came down hard on the previous government for failing to prioritise water issues, leading to water scarcity.
During the hearing of a suo motu case pertaining to water scarcity in Islamabad, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Thursday said people in power are responsible for water crisis as they only ask for vote and do not provide basic necessities to the public.
The government did not devise a strategy to ensure water supply, he said, adding, while the demand for water was 120million gallon, the supply was stagnant at 58.7 million.
He also criticised former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and former president Asif Ali Zardari for “doing nothing” on the water crisis during their tenures.
“Vote ko izzat do (respect the vote) means that you give people their fundamental rights,” he said, referring to a slogan that is being used by Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz.
Justice Nisar also said the authorities could no longer ignore the problem and will have to take “practical steps” to solve it.
“We are wasting water and minerals worth billions of rupees in the ocean,” he remarked. He also criticised the “tanker mafia” for not paying a “penny to the government” in taxes. “Tankers are selling water in Islamabad for Rs 1,500,” he remarked.
The representative of Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad said due to the ineffective policies there was no other option than to utilise water from Tarbela Dam. “The government released only Rs500 million for a Rs70 billion project.”
“Were the funds arranged after prioritising water?” asked the top judge as he held “ruling class” responsible for the water crisis.
Observing that the water issue was a ticking bomb, the CJP said water conservation capacity had not been increased. “We cannot audit the government every day.”
The apex court directed Aitzaz Ahsan to serve as a coordinator for the issue and draft a water policy within two-three days. He is also instructed to submit a detail report pertaining to the water crisis, reservoirs and drinking water. The chief justice said there were outcries over the shortage of water and building dams as the matter can worsen in the future.
Ahsan has been given until June 21 to submit the report. The CJP also summoned the Islamabad chief commissioner, the Capital Development Authority chairman, cantonment board officials along with politicians Malik Abrar, Malik Mehboob and Zamarud Khan in court on Friday.
The apex court also heard a petition against water shortage, during which the country’s top judge remarked that he wished he could hold a begging bowl in his hands and ask for funds for the construction of dams and repayment of the national debt
Justice Nisar had taken a suo motu notice of the water crisis in the country on Monday, saying that it would be the Supreme Court’s “top priority” in the weeks ahead. He had added that the court will hear cases regarding water shortage across the country.
“What have we done for our children if we can’t even provide them water?” he had said.
The SC heard cases regarding water shortage in the capital on Thursday. The apex court’s Karachi and Lahore registries will hold hearings on June 9 and 10, respectively. The chief justice will also hear cases related to water issues in the Peshawar and Quetta registries.
‘DEMOLISH ILLEGAL ENCROACHMENTS ALONG KORANGI DRAIN’:
Meanwhile, the apex court directed the authorities to demolish illegal encroachments along Korangi drain in Islamabad’s Bani Gala.
During the hearing of Bani Gala encroachment case, Justice Nisar said the apex court will not allow housing on public property. “Bulldoze unclaimed properties,” he ordered.
The court was informed by the additional attorney general that the people whose homes were found to be constructed on illegal land had consulted the federal ombudsman.
The court has given 10 days to the illegal residents to submit a reply. The hearing has been adjourned until June 24.
Earlier this year, SC had taken a suo motu case regarding illegal constructions and encroachments in Bani Gala and directed the government to submit a report regarding measures taken to control