Coastal calling: Gwadar holds many promises but no water

Published: March 20, 2012

Provincial govt remains optimistic that the crisis can be overcome.

QUETTA: 

Gwadar, Balochistan’s winter capital and the city of countless promises, has yet to give its residents a sufficient supply of water.

The port city is supplied two million gallons of water every four days, against a daily requirement of 3.5 million gallons, official data suggests.

“Water comes here after every four days,” says Haji Aslam from the Public Health Engineering department. “We are rationing water supply from the dam so that it lasts at least a month,” he adds cautiously.

The port city has a long history of water crisis.

The Ankara Kaur Dam, built in 1993 and stretching over an area of 17,000 acres, remains the sole source of water supply to inhabitants. The crisis worsened in 2006 as population increased.

Gwadar town and Jawani, constituting 50 per cent of the total population of Gwadar district, rely on the Ankara Kaur Dam for all their water needs. Residents of the other three coastal towns of Pasni, Ormara and Sunt Sar are dependant upon seasonal rivers for meeting their demand.

The citizens, meanwhile, decry the utter failure of authorities to come up with a viable solution to the problem.

“There are always tall claims about developing Gwadar city, but in truth we are deprived of basic necessities,” says a resident Hafeez Dashti.  “The government is doing nothing except making false claims. Gwadar has been suffering from an acute water shortage for the past decade, but no concrete steps have been taken to overcome this problem.”

Failing infrastructure

The water level in the dam is decreasing because of silt accumulation, another official said. “The amount of accumulated silt betrays the fact that the dam is past more than 50 per cent of its useful life,” he said.

The previous government planned to install a water desalination plant in

Pasni and Jiwani. Around Rs2 billion were also earmarked for infrastructural investments. However, according to citizens, the funds were embezzled later on.

Govt remains optimistic

The incumbent provincial government, however, remains optimistic that they can overcome the crisis.

“We have taken up this issue with the chief minister who visited Gwadar recently. He not only approved several water projects but also directed authorities concerned to expedite their efforts,” says Hamal Kalmati, provincial minister for fisheries, elected to the provincial assembly from Gwadar.

According to Kalmati, the Balochistan government has approved Rs4 billion for Shadi Kaur Dam and another Rs2 billion for Sawad Dam, both of which are currently under construction.

Besides this, the Balochistan Development Authority (BDA) has also installed a desalination plant in Gwadar at a cost of Rs1 billion. “This will be functional soon and will provide two million gallons per day to inhabitants,” Kalmati adds.

To avert the crisis in the short term, a plan to connect Gwadar with the Mirani Dam in Kech district is also doing the rounds. However, according to Kalmati, the political administration in Kech is against the move.

Judging from the government’s position, it would seem that no stones are being left unturned to overcome the problem.

Kalmati recently arranged a special prayer for rains in Gwadar too. When Gwadar’s citizens are asked, they seem to have more faith in the heavens opening up the gates because as of now, a well thought out public policy plan to address water shortage seems far off.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 20th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (3)

  • A J Khan
    Mar 20, 2012 - 1:02PM

    The only solution to the water problems of Gwader is the construction / installation of desalination plant. As a matter of fact two things stalled the development of Gwader:
    1. Power.
    2. Water.
    2 MGD Desalination Plant implemented by BDA will not meet the needs of Gwader. Private sector should be encouraged to install atleast a ten MGD Desalination Plant along with a Power Plant to cater for the domestic, construction and industrial needs.

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  • A S
    Mar 20, 2012 - 4:55PM

    Using the heat from the Sun to desalinate sea water was started in these areas long long ago. What happened to that wothwhile project. All it needed was some capital cost and minor maintenance. The end product apart from desalinated water was most likely, sea salt.

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  • Syed
    Mar 20, 2012 - 5:31PM

    The solutions are not that difficult. We need a policy. First we must encourage Solar and Wind where possible and grant subsidies. OnGrid must be allowed for those generating their own electricty by Wind or Solar.

    Then there is lot of subsoil water at not too much depth. All we need is solar power, submersible solar pumps – complete system that Renenco can supply.Plus some RO units to make the water potable. The solution is there in a remarkable way.

    The only question is the initial set up cost is high and government should give substantial subsidy. But they have to do it just once and not pay for any recurring fuel cost.

    If I am the minister incharge I would announce a 70% subsidy on generating self power. The excess should go to the grid and let them earn. The problem will be solved. The government can also look at the option of desalination plants.But power must come from Wind and Sun.

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