Public suffering: Water scarcity returns to District West

WAPDA says sanctioned amount can be supplied when Hub Dam reaches full capacity


SHEHARYAR ALI September 21, 2016
WAPDA says sanctioned amount can be supplied when Hub Dam reaches full capacity. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: Taps continue to run dry in District West as many residents bear the brunt of an operational dispute between the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) and Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB).

According to District West superintendent engineer of KWSB, Owais Malik, the recent rain-induced rise in the water level of Hub Dam was seen as a good sign and it was expected that residents of District West, comprising Baldia Town, Orangi Town and SITE, will receive regular supply of water. However, he said, only 60% of the district has been enjoying water supply while the tail-end areas continue to suffer.

The water level in the Hub Dam, which is administrated by Wapda, had reached its dead level in February this year. Keeping in view the dead level, the water board, with the assistance of the Sindh government, had initiated a project worth Rs300 million to fetch water from the dead level in the beginning of August. KWSB bulk water supply chief Zafar Palijo said that the dam's catchment area received ample amount of rainfall during the monsoon season in August this year and the water level rose by 30 feet, reaching 306 feet from the dead level of 276 feet. He added that water supply was resumed in the first week of August at 25 million gallons per day (MGD) and it increased with time after the rainfall.

According to the Wapda project director of Hub Dam, Tariq Khoso, the dam has a capacity of 339 feet while at the moment the water level stands at 306 feet. He said that the reason for the water scarcity in the tail-end areas is that the authority is trying to be economical with the commodity. According to him, 78MGD is currently being supplied to Karachi and 56MGD to Balochistan. He clarified that the sanctioned quota of 100 MGD for Karachi can only be supplied when the dam reaches its full capacity of 339 feet. He added that by utilising the water cautiously, they can continue to supply water to District West for seven to eight months. "If we supply 100 MGD, we can only supply water for four to five months," he claimed.

Meanwhile, KWSB's Palijo claimed that despite the dam's capability of supplying 100MGD to the city for more than a year, only 70MGD is currently being provided.

He explained the division of water supply from Hub Dam in its full capacity: 100MGD to Karachi, 2MGD to Sindh irrigation department for the area of Band Murad and 59MGD to Balochistan. Elaborating on the division formula, Palijo explained that the reason why Sindh gets a bigger share of the water supply from the dam is because 67% of its catchment area lies in Sindh while the remaining 33% are in Balochistan.

Requesting anonymity, a KWSB official said the reason behind the shortage in District West is because of the dues that KWSB owes Wapda. Responding to this, Khoso said Wapda never stops water over such issues, adding that meetings are being conducted with KWSB to resolve the dues' issue.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 22nd, 2016.

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