PHC orders NAB to probe two water treatment plants abandonment

The News

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Wednesday ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa director general to conduct an inquiry into abandoning of two water treatment plants in the provincial metropolis which had been established by spending huge amount.

“We are directing the NAB DG to conduct an inquiry as to how the water treatment plants established after spending billions of rupees were quickly abandoned. The NAB is directed to submit a report within one month in this regard,” a two-member bench comprising Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Musarrat Hilali passed the orders in a writ petition against the provincial government for using the water treatment plant land for dumping waste. The bench also directed the Peshawar Development Authority (PDA) not to use the land of abandoned water treatment plants for other purposes.

On the court’s direction both the Secretary, Finance Department and chief executive officer (CEO) Water and Sanitation Services Peshawar (WSSP) appeared and submitted that the government is going to establish water treatment plants.

WSSP legal advisor, Atif Ali Khan, informed the bench that out of four approved water treatment plants for the city, presently one was running in good condition, two had been abandoned and the fourth one was yet to be established.

However, he submitted that as per the WSSP estimates, Rs23 billion is required for rehabilitation of the two old abandoned treatment plants and establishment of the new one. The Finance secretary informed the bench that the government was establishing water treatment plants in the city.

During the hearing, Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan asked the officials as to why the two treatment plants were abandoned after spending a huge amount from the provincial exchequer. He remarked that the court is going to inquire the matter through NAB.

The writ petition was filed by a lawyer Malik Misraf, in which he sought directions for the authorities concerned to resolve the issue of waste and pollution on emergency basis in the city. He said as per the World Health Organization report, Peshawar had become the second polluted city in the world. Malik Misraf, in his writ petition provided photographs of the waste dumped in Afridi Ghari area near Ring Road in the city.

He submitted that the respondents including hospitals, Town-1 administration, WSSP and other departments were dumping the city’s waste on the land, which had been allotted for water treatment plant, near their houses that had endangered the life of the petitioner’s family and other thousands inhabitants.

The petitioner said even from cantonment area respondents was dumping the clinical and surgical waste/garbage in the area. He said the Local Government Department had acquired about 300 kanals of land for water treatment Plant, but the government even after the court’s direction failed to install one.

The petitioner claimed that the respondents were throwing over 100 tons of garbage, surgical materials, including intoxicating and hazardous materials which release toxic gases and when these gases contact sunlight lit up toxic flumes’ daily in the said area, which is very dangerous to the health and life of the humans.

On the previous hearing, the WSSP had informed the PHC that the establishment of Sewerage Treatment Plant for disposal of waste in the city was delayed due to Chief Minister’s direction to the department not to establish it on already hired area on Ring Road due to a provincial minister opposition and intervention.

“The WSSP had received chief minister’s direction on September 21, asking to leave the current site for establishment of the Sewage Treatment Plant,” WSSP legal advisor, Atif Ali Khan had informed the court.

He further submitted that the chief minister issued the direction after receiving complaint from a provincial minister that the treatment plant should not be established in this area. Earlier, the WSSP had time and again sought time for establishment of the Sewage Treatment Plant, but the issue is still pending as now the chief minister issued direction to leave the site for establishment of the plant.

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