SUKKUR: Living by the right bank of the mighty Indus is just not good enough as residents of Sukkur suffer from acute water shortage on one pretext or the other.
The North Sindh Urban Services Corporation (NSUSC) has completed its six years in Sukkur and despite the fact that the utility has been receiving huge funds for water supply and sanitation, its failure is evident from its performance. Since the closure of all the off-taking canals of Sukkur Barrage on the midnight between January 5 and January 6 - which came with a timely intimation from the barrage authorities - the corporation has miserably failed in providing water to the citizens for the last five days.
Residents of most of the localities, including Shalimar, Old Sukkur, Numaish Road, Qureshi Road and Station Road, have been longing for a drop of water for the last five days. Most of the residents are forced to fetch water from hand-pumps installed in the low-lying areas of the city, including Wallace Road, Mochi Bazaar, Shahi Bazaar, Sarrafa Bazaar and Nishtar Road. A large number of donkey cart drivers and pushcart owners have started supplying water in cans to citizens. The 10-litre can costs Rs20 while the 20-litre can is sold for Rs30.
Water supply, drainage and sanitation were handed over to NSUSC in January, 2011, with the aim of modernising these facilities. Funded by the Asian Development Bank, the utility started its work in five cities of upper Sindh, including Sukkur. The utility was supposed to provide filtered water to the residents of these cities besides modernising drainage and sanitation work by the end of 2015. The year is now 2017 and NSUSC has yet to complete its projects of water, which, according to them, will now be completed by the end of 2018.
A resident of Shalimar, Abdul Salam, condemned NSUSC for its failure to come up to the expectations of the citizens. "We are living at the bank of Indus and have been deprived of water due to the mismanagement of the utility," he regretted. Recalling the municipal services of the 1970s and 1980s, he said that the residents used to get ample amount of water, which was cleaner than what NSUSC is providing today. "In those days, no heaps of garbage or overflowing manholes were seen."
According to Regent Colony resident Ishaq, the situation is getting worse with each passing day. "What is the use of this white elephant [NSUSC]?" he asked. He reiterated that Sukkur's civic facilities were exemplary in the 1970s and 1980s and even during the years before NSUSC took charge. "All the officers and staff have been recruited on political basis who, instead of showing some performance, are busy in corruption," he alleged.
The spokesperson of NSUSC, Malook Baloch, admitted that there was scarcity of water. "The water level in the Indus has reduced considerably, due to which we have had to adjust suction pipes according to the level of the water," he claimed. "This process took a long time and we have started storing water in our reservoirs today, after which supply will be restored gradually." He added that once the water supply will start, the residents will start getting water on a regular basis but with a little low pressure.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 11th, 2017.