MITHI: The all frequent promises of the high-ups of the Sindh government to provide safe drinking water to the residents of the desert district by reviving the faulty costly reverse osmosis (RO) Plants, have yet to be materialized due to alleged rampant corrupt practices by the officials of the public health engineering department and a private firm, Oslo, which was given the contract to put all the waterworks in operation.
According to the available details after the ‘massive scam in waterworks’ committed by the functionaries of a private company, which was given the contract to install, run and maintain the plants with an estimated amount of around 8 billion to provide clean quality drinking water to around 1.8 souls of Tharparkar district some years back could not meet its targets.
The officials of Pak Oasis instead of meeting its target to install as many as 750 sanctioned plants allegedly committed the massive malpractices with the connivance of concerned government officials under the very nose of the lawmakers associated with ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) due to which high-ups of the private firms neither could achieve their target of installing the sanctioned waterworks in several hundred villages not cared a little to maintain the quality in the construction of the plants even in the biggest plant of the Asia at Misri Shah area on the outskirts of Mithi town.
With the expiry of the contract with the privat first in 2019 , the high-ups of Sindh government instead of finding sustainable solution to maintain and run the costly plants in the rain-dependent arid zone of the country, continued the illegal practice of dolling out huge amounts in the installments to officials of the same company but all such tricks to conceal the massive scam and to provide water to people through plants could not work.
The officials of the company getting required amounts from the Sindh government, stopped paying salaries to the workers and operators of the plants. The workers and operators, when they were denied their salaries for many months, came on the roads and staged demonstrations in Mithi and other towns of the district. The unpaid workers kept their protests for many months but high-ups remained silent and kept on assuring the workers that they were trying to invite tenders to award the contract to another firm for the smooth running of the plants and their salaries and other dues.
Finally officials of the PHED awarded the contract of running the plants to the officials of Oslo Company, who were directed to carry out the required repair maintenance work with the estimated cost of Rs 1.5 billion and to put the plants in operation all the existing plants but the officials despite the passage of many months have allegedly failed to put in operation even hardly 10 percent plants out of over 630 plants, which were reportedly installed by the previous private company.
The officials of the new firm, have reportedly informed the high-ups that as many as 228 RO plants, which were claimed to be installed by previous private firm, were exiting nowhere and most of the plants were lying in the deplorable and dilapidated condition and were beyond any major repair since their all the equipment including solar plants and other structures were badly damaged and tampered with.
The area people talking to this reporter revealed that neither officials of PHED nor that of Oslo company had been showing any interest to carry out the all required major repair to the damaged plants to provide the water to the people of Tharparkar.
The people alleged that officials of the firm had neither any intention nor had the expertise to put such badly damaged costly plants in operation to provide water to Tharis both in towns and villages. They termed it as another gimmick by the officials of the public health engineering department to commit corrupt practices and deprive them of safe drinking water through waterworks.
Here it may be recalled that the provincial minister for public health health engineering department and local government, Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, during his recent visit to various areas of Tharparkar had expressed his anger, exasperation and dismay over the poor performance of the concerned for their failure to stem the rot and and to put the pants in operation despite being allocated huge funds for the purpose.
Mr Shah had warned them to mend their ways and to make sincere and concerted efforts for remedial measures but the ground realities speak volumes of the alleged inefficiency, callousness and unabated corrupt practices both by the officials of the government department and the private firm.