–CJP says no RO plant installed in Balochistan for clean drinking water despite spending Rs2.4bn
–Asks two-member commission to give recommendations on resolving potable water issue in remote Balochistan area within two weeks
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday formed a commission to give recommendations on solving the water crisis in Balochistan’s Bhagnari area.
The top court issued these directives while hearing a suo motu case on the non-availability of clean drinking water in the region. The chief justice had taken notice of the crisis after a video that showed people and animals drinking contaminated water from a pond outside Bhagnari went viral on the social media.
As the video was played in court on Friday, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar remarked that people were being forced to drink “poison”.
He then called representatives of the provincial government in court. The Balochistan advocate general responded that the provincial chief secretary, who represents the government, is currently in Iran to which the CJP remarked that the chief minister should be called in court.
Justice Nisar inquired of the Bolan deputy commissioner if the video was authentic, to which he said yes. He told the court that several issues in the area could be pinned down to the water crisis. He added that a reverse osmosis (RO) plant will be set up in two months to address the problem.
The chief justice replied that the responsibility to provide clean water to citizens doesn’t fall on the shoulders of the government, but it is the responsibility of concerned authorities to clean water for drinking purposes. He stressed that the pond’s water could have been treated so that the citizens did not have to drink dirty water.
He also noted that even after spending Rs2.4 billion, nothing could be done to set up RO plants in Balochistan.
Residents of Bhagnari also appeared in court and told the three-member bench that their situation draws less attention than the Thar drought, but it is actually worse.
They told the court that only one road leads to their area, which is at a distance of 200 kilometres from Quetta.
The court also summoned Member of National Assembly (MNA) Ramesh Kumar to the pulpit. Justice Nisar commented that no one in Thar seems to be willing to drink treated water. Wondering why Thar didn’t have a development authority, he directed the Sindh advocate general to ask the chief minister to form a designated development authority.
He added that the multinational corporation Engro has been given a contract In Thar, but all the funds go into paying the directors’ exorbitant salaries.
He added that the issue of clean and pure drinking water is not just restricted to Bhagnari. He stressed that he will summon the provincial chief minister and the entire cabinet if he needed to in order to fix the situation.
The court later formed a two-member commission headed by Supreme Court Bar Association President Amanullah Kanrani and comprising Engineer Usman Babai to submit its recommendations to resolve the issue.
He added that areas sensitive to the water crisis in the province need to be highlighted. Kanrani replied that he’ll submit a report within a week.
The court also ordered for the installation of an RO plant, directing irrigation authorities and other concerned departments to cooperate with the body.
The case was then adjourned for two weeks.