KESC, water board trade barbs over outages
KARACHI, July 14: The Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) and the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) exchanged more blows over the weekend after the water board alleged that the power utility was carrying out illegal loadshedding on the pretext of technical faults at their pumping stations.
Speaking to Dawn, the KWSB managing director said that the KESC, under a Sindh High Court order, could not carry out loadshedding at their pumping stations.
“And yet all our bulk water supply pumping stations have been experiencing power outages, which are being called ‘technical faults’ by the KESC, due to which many areas of the city are experiencing water shortages,” he said.
“The problem has also been playing havoc with our schedule of supplying water to various areas. The pumping stations at Dhabeji, Gharo, Dumloti and North East Karachi that have been experiencing consistent loadshedding are the most affected.”
The KWSB official expressed the fear that if the shortage of millions of gallons of water continued, it might ultimately lead to a breakdown of law and order in the city as Ramazan was also just round the corner and water shortage would cause hardship to citizens.
He requested the KESC to deploy competent technical staff to prevent technical faults in order to insure a sufficient water supply to the city during Ramazan.
The MD also appealed to Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Local Government Minister Agha Siraj Durrani, the chief secretary, the home secretary and other high officials of Sindh along with all elected provincial government representatives and Karachi’s other stakeholders, including the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to play their part in insuring an uninterrupted electric supply to water pumping stations.
Meanwhile, the KESC rejected allegations of the KWSB and described their complaints as “extortion tactics”.
According to a handout issued by the KESC, the power utility alleged that the KWSB’s actual intention was to extort funding from the KESC for the replacement of its own faulty internal service cables at the Gharo, Dhabeji and Pipri pumping stations which would cost a huge amount said to be between Rs40 million and Rs50 million.
“There has been no loadshedding from the KESC’s end at any of the pumping stations despite the KWSB’s enormous default on bills in excess of Rs17 billion and the running default of over Rs350 million on current monthly bills. The loadshedding exemption has been given to the KWSB, despite its defaults, only on humanitarian grounds because cutting the power supply to the water board will result in the suffering of citizens.
“Secondly, as a gesture of goodwill, the KESC has already offered to share the cost of the water board’s faulty and dilapidated service cables replacement, which often cause tripping of KESC feeders as well. This, too, has been done in the spirit of public service, although KESC is not obliged to do so. Unfortunately, the water board seems to be not interested in working out a resolution with the KESC. This can be seen from the fact that the water board is determined to default on its electricity bills and also use the media to
create a propaganda only for the purpose of extortion and trying to coerce the KESC into bearing the cost to put the KWSB’s house in order,” the KESC handout claimed.
“Recently, the water board management has written a number of letters to the KESC, complaining about the fabricated and fictitious ‘loadshedding’ but it has not been able to provide any proof despite KESC’s reminders,” the press release said.
The KESC alleged that the water board was resorting to blackmailing tactics and that the power utility would not bear the cost of replacement of the internal faulty cables and switch gear inside the water pumping stations since the responsibility of doing that fell solely on the water board.
The KESC also said that the water board needed to start paying its current electricity bills and clear all outstanding dues.