(PKONWEB Report): Following up on his vow to take up matters of ‘Great Public Importance’, Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Saturday sought personal appearance of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif after it came to fore that millions of gallons of contaminated water were being drained into River Ravi daily.
A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar was hearing a suo motu notice into provision of clean water at the Supreme Court’s Lahore Registry. The chief minister was summoned after the apex court expressed its reservations over a report presented to the apex court on dumping of 540MGD of untreated waste into River Ravi. Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik and Justice Ijazul Ahsan were other members of the bench.
At the outset of the hearing, the court-appointed commission presented a report on clean water in Punjab– Pakistan’s largest and most populous province with the highest contribution to the country’s GDP.
The report contained shocking revelations it has emerged, including a detailed study which says 540 million gallons of polluted water is being dumped into the river from Lahore on a daily basis. It stated that 480 million gallons of sewerage and 60 million gallons from other sources was being drained into the river from the provincial capital.
Amicus Curie Advocate Ayesha Hamid submitting the report on discharge of untreated effluent into rivers from Lahore, Multan, Rawalpindi, Gujranawala and Faisalabad sated that every day 540 million gallons of effluent was being discharged into river Ravi from Lahore, whereas Faisalabad produces 290 million gallons, Rawalpindi 96 million gallons, Gujranawala 162 million gallons and Multan 230 million gallons and the same was discharged into rivers.
This irked the chief justice who remarked, “Lahore is the heart of Pakistan. Look what is being dumped into the heart.”
The chief justice said if the apex court could summon the Sindh chief minister on water and sewer issue, why it couldn’t do the same to his counterpart in Punjab. He ordered Shahbaz to appear immediately to explain as to what steps have been taken to treat the sewerage.
“The Punjab chief minister should come to court and tell us what the provincial government is doing to address this issue.”
He asked Chief Secretary Capt (retd) Zahid Saeed to confirm whether Shahbaz was available to appear before the court, saying, “It is a prerogative of the chief minister. In case he is not willing to appear, the court will have to issue some other order.” “The chief minister should come today if he can, if not, he may appear before the court tomorrow,” said the chief justice. The chief secretary tried to contact the chief minister in compliance with the court’s order. Later, he informed the court that Shahbaz could not appear before the court on Saturday (yesterday) due to some official engagements. Following that, the court ordered the chief minister to appear in person on Sunday (today) at 11.00 am.
The bench also expressed dissatisfaction over not installing a treatment plant. “The court will fix the responsibility for not installing the plant,” the chief justice remarked. The bench also directed the provincial chief secretary to submit report on provision of clean water supply within seven days. Separately, the chief justice came hard on Punjab Food Authority DG Noorul Amin Mengal after he disclosed that 1,148 companies were involved in the business of bottled water and most of them were unregistered. “How could they have been functioning for years with impunity, but no action was taken against them,” the chief justice remarked.
(Original report appeared in The News Intl.)