KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) sought on Tuesday comments from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) – Pakistan on a reply submitted by the provincial government in a case pertaining to the dissolution of the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board (SSWMB).
An SHC division bench, comprising Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Abdul Maalik Gaddi, directed MQM-Pakistan to submit its comments by July 10. The bench was hearing a petition filed by the party against the SSWMB for failing to fulfil its functions.
The Pakistan Peoples Party-led Sindh government filed its rejoinder through Local Government Secretary Ramzan Awan and, while replying to the allegations levelled against it by MQM-Pakistan and its mayor Wasim Akhtar, pleaded to the bench to dismiss the plaintiff’s application. The government was being represented by the advocate-general, Zameer Ghumro
It stated that the petition was premature and had been filed to gain political mileage. The Sindh government has filed a review petition in the Supreme Court against its March 16 order regarding the dissolution of the board. “Accordingly, the judgment sought to be implemented has not attained finality and cannot be implemented.”
MQM-Pakistan seeks direction for the provincial government to dissolve the SSWMB and hand its functions over to the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC). They refer to the above mentioned Supreme Court order in which it stated that the ‘non-functional board has never performed and should be dissolved to local bodies as provided under the rules of business’.
The provincial government stated that apex court had given four months’ time to the commission appointed to ensure implementation of its order and to submit its report on the dissolution of the SSWMB. It said no interference by the SHC was required, as it will amount to bypassing the commission.
In its reply, the provincial government took a jab at MQM-Pakistan by saying that it had been winning the local bodies elections since 1987 and held sway over the urban parts of the province. “Yet, they have miserably failed to deliver and the issue was so aggravated that the provincial government had to intervene and take steps for the improvement of various local government functions.”
MQM-Pakistan had maintained that the Sindh Solid Waste Management Act, 2014 was against Article 140-A of the Constitution, which pertains to the local government system, as the functions assigned to the board formed under the act, such as collection and disposal of solid waste, sanitation services and environment-related matters, were carved out from the domain of the municipal bodies.
The respondent stated that it was misconceived that the act militate against Article 140-A. “Due to the failure of the local bodies to resolve issues relating to solid waste and sanitation, the provincial government realised its ultimate responsibility and promulgated the act to bring improvement,” stated the provincial government.
It added that since the district municipal corporations (DMCs) and other local bodies had no capacity to establish garbage transfer stations or landfill sites, thus the functions of some of them were taken over ‘with their consent’ under the Services and Asset Management Agreement (SAMA). It mentioned DMC East Chairperson Moid Anwar as having executed the agreement. The copies of SAMA and the contract between the SSWMB and the Chinese company, Changyi Kangjie Sanitation Group, were submitted to the court.
Meanwhile, Akhtar, through his lawyer, moved a plea to make SSWMB a respondent in the case, which the bench approved. The board was also issued a notice by the court to submit its reply by the next hearing.
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