No water for Karachi even as Hub Dam level rises

Published: February 11, 2019
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Shored up: With the recent rain spell raising the water level at the Hub Dam, residents of Karachi were expecting their supply would be restored. However, the KWSB has refused to supply the water, citing leakages in the Hub Canal. Photo: File

Shored up: With the recent rain spell raising the water level at the Hub Dam, residents of Karachi were expecting their supply would be restored. However, the KWSB has refused to supply the water, citing leakages in the Hub Canal. Photo: File

KARACHI: The recent spell of rainfall in Karachi and its surrounding areas has raised the water level at the Hub Dam, which supplies water to a significant part of the port city. However, citizens have been deprived of this basic amenity, with officials of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) pointing to leaks in the Hub Canal, saying that water supply would only be resumed after it is repaired.

At its current level, the Hub Dam can provide 40 million gallons of water per day (mgd) to Karachi. Saleem Ahmed, the chief engineer of the KWSB’s main trunk line, however, has a different take. “The Hub Canal is in a very bad state and a lot of water would be wasted through the leakages,” he told The Express Tribune.

According to Ahmed, the KWSB has decided to start the repair work from now so that, come monsoon season when the Hub Dam is filled to capacity, they can start supplying the optimal 100mgd of water. He added that tenders have been sought for the repair work of the Hub Canal and the KWSB is trying its best to get the repairs completed before the monsoon rains.

Karachi’s water woes

Routed to Lasbella
At its optimal, the Hub Dam supplies 63% of its capacity, which comes to 100mgd, to Karachi’s District West, as well as North Karachi and New Karachi which fall in District Central. The remaining 37% of the water is supplied to Lasbella.

Muhammad Ahtesham, who is the project director of the Water and Power Development Authority at the Hub Dam, told The Express Tribune that the recent rainfall had raised the dam’s water level by three feet, which in turn had increased the water level in its reservoir to 279 feet. At its present level, Karachi and Lasbella could be supplied water on a limited scale for some time, said Ahtesham.
He added, however, that the KWSB had refused to take water due to leaks in the canal, which is why WAPDA was supplying 22mgd of water to Lasbella, which would continue for the next 102 days at the current pace.

Rise from the dead

Before the recent rain spell, water at the Hub Dam had reached the dead level at 276 feet and water supply to Karachi had been stopped for the past three months. Now that the reservoir’s level has reached 279 feet, after a good spell of rain in the catchment areas, it was expected that Karachi’s supply would be restored, mitigating the shortfall in the water supply to its designated areas in District West and District Central. However, residents of these areas have yet again been left yearning for the basic amenity on account of the poor planning of the KWSB.

Citizens suffer

When The Express Tribune reached out to other engineers associated with the KWSB, they all agreed that areas of District West, New Karachi and North Karachi were facing acute shortage of water for the past three months. Currently, the KWSB is supplying 30mgd of water to the affected areas by routing it from the Indus River. Areas of District West are supplied water on 10 days a month, while those in District Central are given water on only five days.

All these areas, which include Baldia Town, Orangi Town and SITE are densely populated and also comprise large industrial complexes, for which the water supply is inadequate. One engineer, speaking to The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity, lamented that had the KWSB repaired the Hub Canal in time, water could have been supplied to these areas from the Hub Dam.

More water expected

For his part, Pakistan Meteorological Department Director Abdur Rasheed told The Express Tribune that there was little possibility of further winter rainfall in Karachi or other parts of lower Sindh. He added, however, that rainfall was expected in Upper Sindh and different areas of Balochistan. “The Hub Dam has a vast catchment area, therefore it is possible that the reservoir’s water level would be further increased after the expected rainfall,” he added.

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