The country's largest airport in Karachi is facing a water shortage of nearly 500,000 gallons a day for the last week due to irregular supply from the water board.
Jinnah International Airport and its affiliated departments consume 800,000 gallons of water per day, according to Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokesperson Pervez George. The Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) is, however, supplying only 300,000 gallons a day, he claimed.
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Water from the main line is being supplied on alternate days for merely eight hours which has resulted in a shortage for passengers, airlines, handling agents, hotels, airport staff and the neighbouring CAA colony, said George.
"If the water supply continues like this, it can lead to embarrassment in front of passengers, especially international travellers," said Jinnah International Airport manager Zafar Etimad. He said that KWSB officials need to go the extra mile to guarantee full supply of water to the airport as soon as possible.
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Etimad met KWSB bulk water supply head Zafar Palijo a few days ago and he was assured that water from hydrants will be supplied without interruptions. It's the responsibility of the provincial government to ensure water supply to strategic locations, such as an international airport and one of the busiest in Pakistan, he said. CAA has reached an agreement with private water tankers to fetch water from the Safoora Goth hydrant but it has yet to ease their problems, he added.
So far, the passengers have been spared the effects of the water shortage as the short supply is being directed towards travellers, said George. All the water currently making its way to the airport has been channelled for the use of passengers and the cleaning of the airport and air crafts, he added.
For his part, KWSB's Palijo told The Express Tribune that the airport is a top priority for his department when it comes to providing water. The supply of water to the Safoora Goth hydrant for the CAA will start in a few days, he assured. The shortage has resulted due to a contingency plan to supply water from the same line to Baldia Town, one of the worst neighbourhoods of the city when it comes to the water crisis.
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The city is suffering from a persistent water crisis with no end in sight. In December last year, the Supreme Court gave two weeks to the local government secretary and the KWSB authorities to formulate a policy to end the water crisis during the hearing of a petition against illegal hydrants. The three-member SC bench, headed by Justice Amir Hani Muslim, expressed annoyance when informed that the Karachi commissioner and former KWSB managing director had given permission to supplying water to industries through water tankers from the hydrants.
The bench members had observed that the transfers and postings of officers in the water board in violation of the service rules and judgment of the SC were creating hurdles in its functioning. They cautioned that in case any officer, who was working in his own pay scale, was found working in the water utility or was given additional change of any post, the KWSB MD will be held responsible and would be proceeded against according to the law.
Moreover, the water board authorities announced, in February this year, that one of the main water reservoirs, Hub Dam, has reached 'dead level', forcing them to use an alternative source to fulfil the city's demands. Palijo told The Express Tribune at the time that the last time the dam filled its entire capacity of 339 feet was in 2013.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2016.