The provincial chief secretary, law secretary and other respondents have been given till September 18 by the Sindh High Court (SHC) to file comments on a plea against non-implementation of the Sindh Consumer Protection Act, 2015.
The petitioner, Tariq Mansoor, submitted in the plea that the provincial assembly had passed the law in 2015 to protect and promote the rights of citizens and to redress consumer complaints at the earliest.
However, he maintained, that despite a lapse of over two years neither consumer courts nor a consumer protection council had been established by the government, which itself was a violation of the law and the constitution.
Setting up a council as well as courts in every district of the province was mandatory under the law, but the government made no efforts to this end, the petition states.
He submitted that by not establishing the consumer protection council and consumer courts, the government has deprived citizens of their right.
The petitioner observed that the province’s population, as per the census, was approximately 47.8 million but none of them have any means for protection of their due rights as consumers.
He requested the court to direct the government to establish a provincial consumer protection council and consumer courts in every district of the province and issue the necessary notification and rules for their working.
Setting a price of Rs1 per day, the petitioner also sought compensation of around Rs42 billion for the total 896 days that a population of 47.8 million remained deprived of consumer courts.
The court has sought the comments on the petition on September 18.
Dumping at Sea View
The SHC for a second time issued notices to the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, Defence Housing Authority, Clifton Cantonment Board, Sindh Environmental Protection Agency and other civic bodies to file their comments on September 12 on a petition against dumping of sewage and industrial waste into the sea.
Petitioners World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-Pakistan), Citizens for Better Environment (Shehri – CBE), Pakistan Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and others approached the court seeking an injunction against release of industrial waste and untreated sewage water into the sea.
The petitioners submitted that Karachi is blessed with a coastline which has for over decades attracted tourists, traders and fishermen. They expressed concerns over the actions and attitude of the metropolis’ civic agencies which are seriously harming the environment, specifically the city’s coastline.
Two sewage and industrial waste dumps have been installed at the Sea View which are polluting the sea, maintained the petitioners while requesting the court to order action against those responsible for the installation so as to protect marine life and reduce health risks.
The petitioners also attached, in the application, pictures taken both on-site and through Google Earth which clearly showed the sewage and industrial dumps installed at an approximate distance of 50 meters from the sea.
The pictures also showed the open discharge of waste into the sea.
It was further submitted in the petition that this flow of industrial waste and sewage is carried out openly, unconcealed and that besides contaminating the sea, the entire area is enveloped by an unbearable stench.
This is an infringement of the fundamental rights of the citizens, the petitioners maintained.
They feared that such an untoward situation has exposed visitors to serious health risks as sewage and industrial waste cause various diseases and medical conditions; besides oral exposure to sewage-contaminated water can also give root to deadly diseases such as hepatitis – a liver infection.
Petitioners’ counsel, Murtaza Wahab and M Jaffer Raza, submitted that the acts and omissions of the civic agencies are not only destroying marine life and disturbing the ecological balance but their oversight is affecting the health of citizens who visit beach for recreation purposes.
The counsels maintained that locals, living near the beaches, commonly find corpses of endangered green turtles and other cetaceans which die due to water pollution. Referring to the pictures taken from Google Earth, the counsels brought the court’s attention towards the water around Sea View which appears dirty and dark in colour, whereas water around the beach at other coastal areas of Pakistan such as Gwadar looks blue and clear.
They requested the court to direct the civic agencies to take steps for cleanliness of the beaches and ensure that sewage and industrial waste is not discharged into the sea.