KARACHI: Berating the provincial authorities over their lethargic attitude in making the municipal and industrial waste treatment plants operational, the Supreme Court on Tuesday observed that it would not compromise on the issue of lives of people and no one responsible, either from political or administrative side, would be spared.
Headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, a three-judge bench was hearing a 24-year-old case pertaining to environmental pollution at the city harbour and coastal areas and their poisoning due to unmitigated release of industrial waste into the sea.
The bench also comprised Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah.
The CJP became visibly irked when Sindh Advocate General Zamir Ghumro informed the judges that the provincial government was taking all effective measures to resolve the environmental pollution issue.
The CJP warns authorities of contempt proceedings in case of delay
“It seems from your comment that the problem has already been resolved. It is such a big issue and the provincial authority is pretending that there is nothing,” he said.
He asked the provincial law officer if he could give an undertaking that the matter stood resolved. “Don’t force us to pass strict orders,” the CJP warned and wondered how the citizens could be proud of the state which failed to provide even safe drinking water to them.
The CJP observed that 450 million gallons of untreated water was being discharged into the sea daily since no sewage treatment plant was operational in the city.
He remarked that “right to person” and “right to property” were the fundamental rights of the people and the state was constitutionally bound to ensure provision of healthy and safe environment to them. “We want solution to the problem and [are] ready to provide all sort of help to the government,” he added.
The chief justice made it clear that the court would not compromise on the issues of lives of people and remarked that sea pollution due to untreated flow of sewage and industrial waste would not be overlooked.
Sindh Chief Secretary Rizwan Memon told the judges that sewerage treatment plants TP-I and TP-III would be made functional by June 2018, on which the CJP said that only statements could not change the situation, asking him to file an affidavit that the issues would be resolved.
The CS conceded inefficiency on part of the provincial authorities and said they were ashamed of the delay. “We are thankful to you for taking up the proceedings,” he said.
He informed the judges that there were five industrial zones in the city where industrial waste treatment plants would be set up. He said that the prime minister had approved the setting up of the treatment plants in the meeting of Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) 10 days ago.
The bench asked the chief secretary to submit the summary of the approved treatment plants to the Ecnec.
It also directed the provincial authorities to come up with a report, outlining a time frame for completion of these plants.
The CJP said the provincial authorities would have to sign affidavit vis-à-vis time frame for making the plants functional and warned if these plants were not made functional within the time frame, contempt of court proceedings will be initiated against them.
He said the court would cooperate with the provincial government for resolution of problems and it would continue to discharge its duties in line with the country’s Constitution.
The hearing of the case was adjourned till Dec 23.
Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2017