Water issues: To bathe or to drink?

Published: May 3, 2011
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People flay arms against an acute shortage of water supply in Islamabad; 
CDA blames power outages.

People flay arms against an acute shortage of water supply in Islamabad; CDA blames power outages.

ISLAMABAD: 

Many sectors in the federal capital are facing acute water shortages amid continual power outages and soaring temperatures.

Residents in most sectors, particularly F-6, G-6, G-7, G-8, G-9, I-8 and I-10, have been complaining that they are facing water shortages and that the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has failed to rectify the situation despite complaints.

“We were forced to call for water tankers to meet our needs as we have not received any water in the past three days,” said Salim Abbasi, a resident of G-9/4. At the same time, he said, the system for getting CDA water tankers is equally agonizing as officials need to be reminded many times to get a tanker, adding that “influence” is the only way to get a water tanker sent on time.

CDA officials are of the view that the current shortage is due to frequent power outages in the city as tube wells become unusable during those hours. A CDA official said that the water level in Simly Dam, the city’s main water source, is very low, and there will be a water crisis in the city if it does not receive heavy rain.

Shahid Mehmood, a senior official in the CDA water supply directorate, however dispelled this notion, saying that there was no water issue since the last heavy rains that filled the city reservoirs with sufficient reserves.

He added, “The current shortage is due to the 10 to 12 hours of load shedding in the city.”  He insisted that the civic body is making efforts to manage the available water in a systemic way.

But their efforts seem to failing. A lady in sector I-9 said that the water supplied to her house is totally insufficient and there is no consistency in the supply. “We decided to install an underground water system to get free from this headache once for all,” she added.

Others raised objections on the quality of water tankers that are used to supply water to houses. They feared many of these tankers are supplying contaminated water. These water tankers are owned by private contractors and there is a lot of leeway for potential fraud and ‘commissions’.

The water shortage issue in the capital is not a new phenomenon and residents have been facing this problem for many years now, but the civic body has not been able to come up with any long-term plan to overcome the issue.

The CDA’s plan to execute a Rs45 billion water project from Ghazi-Barotha to cater to the city’s water needs became politicised well before its execution. Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa opposed the project and the matter is still pending with the Inter-Provincial Coordination Committee. None of the stakeholders have been able to reach a consensus so far.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 1st, 2011.

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