More than 30 water purification plants installed throughout Sukkur district at a cost of millions of rupees have been left unattended ever since the company handed them over to the city administration.
Under the prime minister’s programme for providing clean drinking water to the people, the contract was awarded to a private firm, Green Pakistan Private Limited, to install 31 water purification plants in the area.
The company, in collaboration with the public health engineering department of Sukkur, installed 15 units in Sukkur city, eight in Rohri town, three in Salehpat town and five in Pannu Aqil town.
The work was completed in 2008. According to the contract, the company was supposed to also run the plants for three years, after which they were to be handed over to the public health department.
At each of the plants, an operator was employed to carry out maintenance work.
For the residents of Sukkur district, the units were a blessing as they could now turn on the tap and get clean drinking water. Sukkur city can be divided into two portions: one is the low lying area and the other is at higher ground.
Those living in the low-lying areas mostly use underground water, while those living at the high grounds either have to fetch drinking water from the hand pumps installed in the low-lying areas or drink contaminated water supplied by the Town Municipal Authority (TMA).
According to schedule, after three years, the company withdrew its employees from the plants and the responsibility fell in the lap of the public health engineering department. It was supposed to employ operators to keep the plants in working condition. But neglect set in. As a result, thieves have started stealing the taps.
The executive engineer of the public health engineering department, Sukkur, Sadiq Narejo, told The Express Tribune that he was new to the area and it would be better to contact the sub engineer, Abdul Qadeer Shaikh.
Shaikh admitted that the plants are largely unattended after the company’s staff left. “Over one million rupees spent on each plant is going to waste because there is no operator to run it,” he said. However, at two or three locations, residents have hired operators to run the plants.
Meanwhile, the North Sindh Urban Services Corporation, which had taken over Sukkur’s water supply, drainage and sanitation from the TMA in January this year, has failed miserably to uphold its end of the bargain.
When asked about fixing the supply of dirty water, its director, Abid Hussain, was only able to promise that he would look into the matter and direct the “officials concerned” to increase the quantity of alum added to the supply.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 6th, 2011.