Mr. Justice Amir Hani Muslim in his judgment has ordered upon report of commission on safe drinking water supply, sewerage and solid waster management services in the Province of Sindh in Constitutional Petition No. 38 of 2016.
1. This Petition is filed by a practicing lawyer praying for the following reliefs:
“i. Take a serious notice of this issue of public importance involving the denial of fundamental right of the people of Shikarpur and other parts of Sindh to have a clean drinking water, sanitation and a safe environment, which indeed are also the issues of national importance;
ii. Declare that the Respondents have violated the citizens’ fundamental right to have clean water, which is subsumed in the rights to life, liberty, property, human dignity, information and equal protection of the law, as guaranteed under the Constitution of Pakistan;
iii. Declare that the Respondents have violated the Doctrine of Public Trust which bind them to act as the fiduciaries of the people and commit them to providing the people of Shikarpur and other parts of Sindh with a clean drinking water, public sanitation and a hygienic environment so that they may lead a healthy, productive and dignified life as is pledged to them under Articles 4, 9, 14, 18, 24 and 25 of the Constitution of Pakistan;
iv. Direct the Respondents to implement Sindh Environmental Protection Act, 2014, and other relevant rules, statues and Constitutional provisions in order to protect, conserve, rehabilitate and improve the environment which includes clean water, for the prevention and control of pollution, and promotion of sustainable development;
v. Direct the Respondents to refrain from further such violations of the Doctrine of Public Trust and Fundamental Rights of the people, as guaranteed under the Constitution;
vi. Direct the Respondents to ensure prevention of further contamination of underground water/public water supply in Shikarpur and other cities of the province by immediately taking necessary measures, which include discharge of effluent/sewage into environmentally safe outlets, remove underground septic tanks and other sources of the contamination of aquifer, ensure efficient sewage and solid-waste disposal systems, and treat effluent before draining it into irrigation conduits;
vii. Direct the Respondents to immediately appropriate all available funds towards the provision of clean water, sanitation, disposal of solid-waste material and treatment of effluent in Shikarpur and other parts of the province;
viii. Direct the Respondents to immediately begin a systematic repair of all the broken sewage and sanitation systems, treatment plants, reverse osmosis plants, pumping stations and discharge-outlets in Shikarpur and other parts of the province;
ix. Direct the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency to perform its assigned statutory duties without fail including regular monitoring, water-testing, environmental assessment and publication of annual reports on its Website;
x. Direct the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency to submit a copy of its Annual Report to Registrar of this Hon’ble Court at least for a period of five years so that this Hon’ble Court may take appropriate action in case a lapse, violation or default is committed by the SEPA or the Respondent Authorities; and so that citizens may be able to knock on the door of this Hon’ble Court against the Respondents;
xi. Institute a three-member Commission headed by an Hon’ble sitting or retired Judge of High Court to conduct in-depth probe into the Respondent Authorities’ failures to provide the people of Shikarpur and other parts of the province with a clean drinking water, sanitation and healthy environment, and to fix responsibilities on the errant/culpable persons/authorities; the commission may also recommend short-term and long-term measures to enhance efficiency, transparency and accountability in these vital public service utilities that are represented by Respondents Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7;
xii. Retain jurisdiction over this action to monitor and enforce the Respondents’ compliance with all associated orders of this apex Court;
xiii. Grant any other just or equitable relief(s) held appropriate as being fit and proper by this Hon’ble apex Court and Cost.”
2. On 21.12.2016, this Court had passed following order:
“The Petitioner is a practicing lawyer, permanent resident of District Shikarpur. He claims that the Sindh Government has created Respondent No. 2 somewhere in 2009-10, which was required to deliver sustainable water supply, sewerage and solid waste services in a safe, efficient and effective manner in 8 districts of upper Sindh namely Sukkur, New Sukkur, Rohri, Khairpur, Larkana, Shikarpur, Jacobabad and Ghotki. He further contends that this Organization i.e. Respondent No. 2 was created by obtaining loan of 500 million dollars from Asian Development Bank, which has not benefited the public at large of the said districts, instead the sub soil water was further contaminated. He submits that Government of Sindh has failed to provide drinking water to the public at large of the upper Sindh and lower Sindh instead the sub soil water, which the locals of these districts have to consume, is contaminated and not fit for human consumption. The issue raised is question of public importance, which has direct nexus with the fundamental rights of the residents of Sindh living not only in 8 districts but also who are living in the lower Sindh. According to the Petitioner, the issues involved inter alia relate to violation of fundamental rights of the people of Shikarpur and Sindh, violation of the doctrine of public trust, degradation of environment, conserving the underground water/aquifer, supplying clean water to the citizens, providing an efficient sanitation and solid waste material disposal management to the people of Shikarpur and other parts of Sindh, protection of public life and atmosphere from the irreversible effects of contamination of underground water and fixing responsibility on the lapse or failure of discharging statutory and constitutional duties and functions to provide citizens of their fundamental right to receive water and to live in a healthy environment.
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