Five million residents of Karachi District West were held hostage by owners of 92 illegal Hydrants and K Electric. Despite the elected citizen, provincial and federal governments in the country, deprivation of basic necessities like urban water and electricity is against the democratic norms. Shahri Awami Mahaz (SAM) will continue its struggle to rid Karachi of the power and water mafia.
Press Release (KHI) 21st July, These views were expressed by the leaders of The Mahaz while addressing the second protest against the non-supply of electricity and water. The demonstration was held at Sher Shah Chowk, Karachi district west. The protest demo was led by Comrade Gul Rehman, Comrade Khaliq Zadran and Zahra Khan.
The demonstration was attended by a large number of citizens from Baldia, Orangi Town, Kemari, Frontier Colony, Old Golimar, SITE and different areas of the city.
Addressing the demonstration, Comrade Gul Rehman, President of National Trade Union Federation of Pakistan Sindh and representative of Workers’ Rights Movement, said that despite being the largest, most densely populated district and industrial hub of Pakistan, district West Karachi was being held hostage by the water mafia. Ninety-tow illegal hydrants set up in the district had caused havoc. The city, provincial and federal governments were not in position to challenge the mafia. The elected representatives from this district, including five members of the National Assembly and eleven members of the provincial and federal water minister, had completely failed to provide water to their voters.
Comrade Khaliq Zadran, Chairman Lyari Awami Mahaz, said that the operation against illegal hydrants had been announced several times but the tanker mafia had become more powerful after each operation. Even the decision of the Supreme Court against the Mafia of 2005 failed to save the people from that torment. District West needs 100 million gallons of water a day, but from the Hub Dam received only 40 million gallons of water a day, 40% of which had been stolen by illegal hydrants owners and the tanker mafia and sold to the public at exorbitant prices.
Zahra Khan, General Secretary, Home Based Women Workers Federation, said that the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board had become a redundant body due to its performance. The Government pumping stations were under the complete control of the mafia, powerful political and non-political groups that supply water to areas of their choice. The water Board officials were equally complicit in that heinous act of water theft.
He added that the board spends 92% of its total budget on electricity, salaries and benefits so there was no money to spend on new projects. The “K – 4” project launched to improve water supply had fallen victim to powerful mafia and corruption. Under this project, the water line from Hub Dam was brought to District West but for unknown reasons it was now left incomplete.
Aftab Hussain, Leader, Madina Colony Welfare Society said that most areas of District West include Gulshan-e-Bihar, Ittehad Town, Kumar Wara where water supply lines were non-existent. Residents there were longing for a drop of water.
Aqib Hussain, President National Youth Committee Karachi said that sub-soil water was being extracted in the name of R O plants and this toxic water was being sold fearlessly to households which was causing dangerous diseases.
Abdul Rehman Baloch, a well-known social activists, said that the water, electricity and land mafia in this district having holy alliance .This powerful mafia suppresses every voice raised by the people. The same powerful mafia brutally killed Parveen Rehman.
Mir Sharif Baloch, a social and political activist from Orangi, said that in most areas of Baldia Town, water comes once in three or four months and even its distribution was not fair. Residents of Madina Colony had been without water for the last 30 years. Residents of Omar Baloch Colony, Orangi Town were forced to buy water from Rs 4,000 to Rs 12,000 per month. But Water Board officials, elected representatives and parties claiming to represent the city of Karachi had failed to address public grievances.
Hasna Khatoon, vice president of Baldia Tragedy Victims Association, while expressing her views, said that load shedding in most of the labor settlements had reached 12 to 14 hours. In some areas, the power went out for 24 to 48 hours. But despite this, electricity bills had skyrocketed and sometimes half of the monthly salary went to electricity bills. She added that the power and water crisis had caused mental anguish.
The SAM demanded immediate closure of all illegal hydrants and closure of fake RO plants. K-4 project to be completed on an emergency basis. All water supply stations should be freed from the mafia. Alternative arrangements should be made for water supply in areas where there were no water supply lines. Overbilling of electricity to be eliminated. Revoke the privatization of K Electric and give it to the democratic control of the citizens.