You’ve been in power for a decade, yet we have to take notice of issues: CJP asks CM

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LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Sunday sought three weeks to submit a comprehensive plan to address the issue of drainage of polluted water in the provincial capital of Punjab.
Headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, the three-judge bench, was hearing a suo moto case regarding provision of unclean drinking water to the people of the province. The chief minister appeared before the bench in response to its summons.
At the outset, he said that he respected the judiciary and was among those who struggled for its independence. On this, the chief justice asked him why he didn’t advise his party in this regard.
On a lighter note, Shahbaz said “Why are you after my job” triggering gales of laughter in the courtroom.
When asked about measures he had taken to address the issue of polluted water, the chief minister sought three weeks to submit a comprehensive plan to address the issues of provision of potable water and treatment of sewage. “You have been in power for the last ten years, yet we have to take notice over issues,” observed the CJP.
On Saturday, the bench expressed dissatisfaction over a report by the Punjab government with regard to drainage of polluted water into Ravi River and summoned the chief minister to explain the situation at11am today.
Advocate Ayesha Hamid submitted the report, stating that 540 million gallons of polluted water was being dumped into the river.
Irked by the findings of the report, the chief justice remarked that if Lahore, which is the heart of Pakistan, was being meted out such treatment, then the situation of other cities can be imagined. “If the Sindh chief minister can appear in the court, why not the Punjab CM,” the chief justice remarked.
At the previous hearing, the chief justice asked the Punjab chief secretary to explain where hefty amount earmarked for provision of potable water was being spent.
According to a report submitted by the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR), water samples collected from the chief justice’s chamber were found to be contaminated.
CJP Nisar threatened to issue a stay order against the Punjab government’s Orange Line Metro Train project, if it didn’t improve healthcare and educational facilities.
Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif on Sunday assured the Supreme Court that a comprehensive plan to address the issues of untreated effluent discharge into rivers, provision of clean drinking water and disposal of hospital waste would be submitted in the court within three weeks.
The chief minister made the assurance before a three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, who was hearing several suo moto notices of public importance here at the Supreme Court Lahore Registry.
As the proceedings began, the chief justice observed that these proceedings were not of adverse nature but a collective effort to settle the issues besides acknowledging the arrival of the chief minister on court’s call.
Amicus Curie Advocate Ayesha Hamid submitted a report on discharge of untreated effluent into rivers from Lahore, Multan, Rawalpindi, Gujranawala and Faisalabad. She submitted 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.
She mentioned that Faisalabad had a treatment plant, which treats almost six per cent of effluent and almost a third of effluent was treated in Multan before discharge into rivers. She also apprised the bench about Punjab government’s plan of installing six treatment plants in Lahore with the help of Asian Development Bank and others.
At this, the chief justice asked the chief minister to suggest measures to settle the issue. He also expressed his reservations over outsourcing of hospitals’ waste disposal in the province.
To which, the chief minister submitted that his government was making all-out efforts to serve masses, and it had gone beyond the call of duty. Shahbaz Sharif said that he believes in transparency and his government had managed to save billions of rupees in various mega projects.
He apprised the court about the energy projects, initiated in the province and submitted that they were installed on almost half the cost compared with Guddu power project. To a court query, he said that emissions from Sahiwal coal-fired plant were below the international limits. He also sought three weeks’ time to come up with plans to address the issues raised by the court.
Adjourning the hearing, the bench also drew the attention of the chief minister towards contaminated water issue. The chief justice also remarked during the hearing that general elections would be held in a fair and transparent manner. – NNI