The water supply is designed to run close to them
Maps are deceptive. The cartographer’s sleight of hand can alter scale and perception. Their choices of what to show and what to leave out are equally suspect. So if you look at the maps of K-IV the blue line for the canal seems innocent enough as it snakes across the top of Karachi. It is only when you add on the missing pieces that another picture emerges. That picture includes Bahria Town and DHA City.
When K-IV’s route was being chosen and designed, no Bahria or DHA City existed on the ground as such. (Bahria Town gave its first ads in 2013, alerting the public to its plan and in 2014 it gave vague mention of the location off the Super Highway.) Today, however, the canal runs straight through Bahria Town Karachi and quite close to DHA City.
What a coincidence that the company designing K-IV, Osmani, has also made the master plan for DHA City. Even funnier is that when it designs K-IV, Osmani employs the well-respected Prof. Spiro Pollalis of Harvard as an urban planning expert advisor, and pays him. Prof. Pollalis was recently in Pakistan to talk about Islamabad’s urban planning given that Doxiadis was involved. The professor also happens to be the chief planner for DHA City, a contract he was awarded when his design won the competition in 2010. K-IV’s route 8 runs past DHA City.
Osmani also paid another gentleman: Demetris Zarris of M/s Doxiadis (the DHA City planners along with Pollalis). Zarris was paid Rs15.2 million for six months for being the team leader for K-IV’s design. Odd thing is, he met Project Director Saleem Siddiqui only once, according to what Siddiqui documented and told an inquiry. In a July 8, 2015 letter sent to Osmani’s team leader Lt. Col. retired Ajmal Rasheed. “[I]t is regretted that after that first and last meeting, he left once for all, never to be seen or heard.” SAMAA Digital was unable to independently verify if more meetings took place.
When the Sindh government conducted its own inquiry into the mess of K-IV, secretary Aijaz Mahesar noted in 2018: “It has been observed that the consultants lack expertise and capacity to handle such mega projects. During the pre-qualification process, the consultant gave the impression of forming a Joint Venture with M/s Doxiadis of Greece, but thereafter there is no mention of the latter entity. Such letter was also written by the then project director to M/s Osmani on July 14, 2015 for clarification.”
People working on K-IV were asked the simple question: will Bahria Town steal water from K-IV given that the canal is supposed to pass right through it? There were two opinions. One expert said that it will not be possible to steal from the canal because it will be fenced off and K-IV will have its own security. If anyone does stick a pipe in to siphon off water it will be visible. When cross-questioned that water theft is common from KWSB’s pipelines, the expert replied by saying it is always easier to steal from underground pipes than an open canal. This person was of the opinion that even if you paid water board staff under the table, theft would still be visible.
The second expert’s answer lay at the other end of the spectrum. Yes, through influence or strongarming Bahria or DHA City can wrestle water supplies from K-IV. One expert went so far as to say that it was only with Bahria’s arrival on the scene that a concerted push was made to get K-IV going, even at levels beyond the civilian administration. “There was no life in this project. It wasn’t going to happen,” said one engineer. “The whole driving force behind this project was Malik Riaz.”
This is what the fifth project manager Assad Zamin said: “That doesn’t need to be a problem because the Right of Way is of the water board.” According to him, Bahria came about in 2011-2012, but the K-IV route had been decided before that. “And then there was some master plan in which the Malir Development Authority showed the route going through Bahria.” He maintains that if anyone wants water they can simply apply officially.
The land belonged either to the Sindh government or was private. If K-IV was planned, and land was acquired for it in the space that became Bahria, how come it got permission to build on it?
In 2017, an irritated FWO wrote to Osmani saying that it didn’t have clarity on work in the part of the route that falls in Bahria. In fact, Bahria was building its own water works that were interfering with the space reserved for K-IV.
If Bahria Town or DHA City or indeed any of the other new housing projects coming up along the Super Highway want water from K-IV they will have to most likely get it from Reservoir 3. In principle, anyone can apply for a new water connection officially. The water board’s MD Asadullah Khan says Bahria already gets 800,000 gallons a day from KW&SB’s existing system.
Interestingly, the DHA Today website says this: “K-IV is 650 MGD project for Karachi City, out of which only 32 MGD will be required for DHA City Karachi.”
This opens up several questions. Answering them is beyond the scope of this article but they are worth asking in the hope that there will be some oversight or transparency. It is an accepted reality that people will start inhabiting housing societies along the Super Highway, including Bahria Town and DCK. What are the population estimates and is there a plan to provide them water?
Have Bahria Town and DHA City applied for a supply from K-IV? If this is under consideration how much water will they get? How come K-IV is passing through Bahria?
To read the next article of the series on Karachi’s K-IV water project, click on the image below