KARACHI: Residents of Defence Housing Authority are protesting outside Cantonment Board Clifton’s (CBC) Clifton office since April 6, overwhelmed by CBC’s charging additional Rs 500 per tanker (each tanker having a capacity of 1,000 gallons only) as “tanker charge” which is in addition to an annual water conservancy tax paid by all DHA residents. Cantonment Board Clifton is unable to provide water through lines (despite collecting taxes from residents) which is why each household was allocated 3,000-4,000 gallons a month (3-4 tankers per month) of water supply through CBC’s tankers, CBC now requires residents to pay Rs 500 per tanker for resumption of water supplies (supplies by tankers have been stopped till residents pay in advance for tanker charges). Residents who gathered outside CBCs Clifton office met with a cold shoulder from higher ups, barbed wires and locked gates (during office hours), two days having passed yielding no result, residents decided to gate crash into CBC’s premises which resulted in assurances from CBC’s additional CEO Arfeen Minhas of presenting their (residents) charter of demands in a board meeting scheduled on a unknown date in April 2017. Residents demanded water supplies through lines instead of tankers which they see as an indirect endorsement of private tanker water supplies by CBC, withdrawal of additional charges of Rs. 500 per tanker and an apology from CBC’s management for misbehaving with protestors. Cantonment Board Clifton collects water conservancy tax annually ranging from Rs 12,000-18,000 per household in return for uninterrupted water supplies, however water supplies are insufficient and nonexistent in most cases, and most of the households in DHA do not have line connections for water supplies. On contacting CBC it was learnt that the additional water tanker charges are to discourage those residents who already receive water through supply lines from relying on CBC’s tankers and that this is not an additional tax. CBC believes some households are availing its free tanker water supplies despite receiving up to 6,000 gallons of line water. CBC’s Additional CEO Arfeen Minhas said that his organisation faces a shortage of water supplies from KWSB despite signing an agreement. “In 1999 DHA and CBC managed to get a quota of 9MGD with KWSB, in my tenure of two years on average we receive 6MGD against a demand of 16MGD as per international standards, with a shortfall of 10MGD per day it becomes a herculean task for us to keep residents satisfied.” This however does not justify CBC charging residents additionally after collecting water tax, a KWSB official on the condition of anonymity told this correspondent that CBC can “buy” additional water supplies from KWSB. On interviewing protesters who were frustrated over CBC’s dictatorial ways “CBC’s management is arrogant and inaccessible to the tax payer, they welcome the taxpayer with locked gates and barbed wires,” said a resident/protester. Protesters questioned amendments in DHA’s laws whereby an elected governing body comprising of residents of DHA was replaced with an administrator. A resident added “This way DHA has been turned into an Authority instead of a Society it once was, the authority can pass any order and expect us residents to comply without debate”. Whilst CBC locked its gates (during office hours) for residents/taxpayers/protestors, it offers uninterrupted water supplies to a list of 1,200 VIP’s in DHA. Residents anticipate the additional water tanker charge of Rs 500 per tanker which is being collected in advance for a period of six months by CBC (Rs 7,500 approximately for six months) will be increased to Rs 1,000 per tanker in the near future. Residents of DHA Phase 8 have been informed by CBC that despite collection of water tax, water supplies to Phase 8 is not CBC’s responsibility. Residents who took part in protests state that despite paying taxes and additional water tanker charges CBC has unofficially advised its tankers to not deliver water to their residences, residents who dared to protest are now booking expensive private tankers. On October 26, 2016 as a result of a petition filed by Rukhsana Yahya, the Sindh High Court ordered CBC to stop collecting water tax from residents when it was observed that CBC was not supplying water through lines and tankers. The order stated, “CBC is wasting precious resources and public money as it failed to develop and implement an efficient water supply system for the residents of DHA and using tankers was only a temporary solution which itself is a waste of public money.” In the said case CBC’s lawyer Abdullah Munshi submitted that the supply of water was dependent on the KWSB and sewerage board, however the court observed that no agreement or other documents between CBC and KWSB were placed on record. The court ordered CBC to display its (courts) directives on CBC’s website), no such order was found on CBC’s website. Residents of DHA are without water supplies till CBC’s board meeting where their (residents) charter of demands will be placed for discussion.