GILGIT: The residents of Basin Khari, a village some 10 km from Gilgit, have seen their health deteriorate due to the unavailability of clean drinking water.
“We are forced to drink river water as the water tank of our area has been empty for a long time,” Haji Qurban and other residents told The Express Tribune on Monday, as they threatened to block the main road connecting Gilgit with Ghizer District, which passes through their area.
With a population of around 500 households, Basin Khari is located on the bank of Gilgit and was significantly affected by last year’s floods. More than one hundred villagers were forced to take shelter in camps set up by the government.
“We brought the issue to the notice of officials but to no avail,” said the villagers.
“Half the children here are suffering from stomach problems due to contaminated water,” said Ibrahim Ali, another resident, adding that the authorities did not even bother to clean the tank while it was dry. He said they would be forced to block the road if the problem was not addressed in the near future. The residents appealed to the chief minister to look into the matter before an epidemic breaks out in the area.
Dr Feroz Khan, a child specialist, explained that diseases of the stomach and digestive system are usually caused by contaminated water. He said that rashes and itchy skin, fever, chills, cough, and muscle aches could affect people, especially children. “If the water is polluted or otherwise contaminated, the spread of diseases like diarrhoea occurs, as do other stomach diseases,” he said. He encouraged people to boil water to kill water-borne bacteria and make it safe to drink.
Officials in the water and power department in Gilgit said that a clean drinking water scheme was underway for the area and near completion. The official added that dialogue between the government and the residents of Basin Khari was ongoing.
Published in Tribune, February 23rd, 2011.