Karachi’s infrastructure has been ruined: SC

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–Top judges ask govt to hold K-Electric responsible for deaths due to electrocution 

KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday berated the Sindh government, municipal authorities and K-Electric, the principal supplier of electricity to Karachi, over the deaths of dozens of people due to electrocution during recent rains in the metropolis.

A three-judge larger bench headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed was hearing a slew of applications regarding various civic issues in Karachi at the apex court’s Karachi registry. Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah were also part of the bench.

Justice Arab during the hearing remarked that 22 children had died after suffering electric shocks during the recent rains in Karachi and other parts of Sindh, adding that the deaths had left no impact on the authorities.

“Why were the electricity providers not held responsible for these many deaths?” Justice Ahmed asked the top Sindh law officer. “Action has been taken against K-Electric,” the Sindh advocate general replied.

Overall, during the arguments, the bench remained unimpressed.

Justice Ahmed inquired about the alternative that Karachi city would have, in case, Abraaj Group, which holds stakes in K-Electric, abandons the company.

“For Abraaj Group, K-Electric is the hen that lays the golden eggs and except K-Electric, all of Abraaj’s departments have collapsed”, the judge remarked

Justice Ahmad further noted that K-Electric is making a staggering profit of Rs50 million in exchange for five paisas and in addition to that this company has sold all the good quality copper wires and replaced it with the aluminium ones.

“Did anyone ever carry out an audit of K-Electric?” the judge inquired and said that he is worried about the absence of an alternative plan for power supply to Karachi. He asked further that how come a sensitive system like this was handed over to a foreign company with such ease and convenience.

“K-Electric did not deliver anything,” Justice Ahmed commented. The entire infrastructure of the megacity had been “ruined”, he added. Justice Arab observed that it is highly unlikely that anyone died from electrocution in any modern city of the world.

He also took notice of Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar and Sindh Governor Imran Ismail’s sipping tea at Cafe Piyala and said that it was in bad taste as at that time many of Karachi’s residents were suffering due to the torrential rains.

“Some people only found out about the toll of deaths by electrocution while sitting in their lavish offices,” the judge added, without mentioning a name.

“The Karachi mayor availed the facility of a raincoat while fellow citizens kept getting wet.”

Justice Ahmed concluded that concerned authorities and the Sindh government had “completely failed” to fulfil their responsibilities and were unable to extend any kind of help to people who were in distress.