The biggest metropolis of the country and one of its main industrial and financial hubs, Karachi, is facing a severe water crisis that continues through much of summer and only marginally improves in winter. Now, the federal government has decided to finally do something about it. Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) to build a freshwater reservoir for the city. The reservoir will be a barrage built on River Indus about 45km upstream of river’s outfall into the sea, 65km south of Thatta and 130km east of Karachi city. It will store around two to three million acre feet of water.
If the noises from the federal government’s camps are to be believed, this mega scheme will address almost all water issues downstream of Kotri Barrage, including sea intrusion upstream, land erosion, non-availability of water for both irrigation and domestic use, and addressing the water shortage in Karachi by supplying 1,000 million gallons of water per day. It will, however, take the government around four years to complete it even while adopting a fast-track strategy.
That Karachi and much of lower Sindh faces a water crisis is well known. Various remedies have also been suggested in the context, including a wholesale change in the entire water supply and distribution system. Curiously, there has been no mention of the Sindh government’s role in the project. This could ultimately add to the friction between the PTI-led federal government and the PPP-led Sindh government and could potentially impact the project.
The government’s desire and intention to build the much-needed project which aims to address the critical issue of water for the country’s biggest metropolis is more than welcome. But the federal government will be well advised to take the Sindh government and the local governments on board to make the project more inclusive and effective — particularly if the government wants to address further supply issues in the urban areas.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2019.