As if Karachiites’ problems weren’t serious enough, there is more bad news regarding the ambitious Sindh-Centre K-IV water project, launched in 2007 to address Karachi’s acute water shortage. The project, scheduled for completion this year, seems at least two to three years behind schedule. Upon completion, it is expected to supply about 650 million gallons of water per day to Karachi which currently receives only about 500 million gallons a day against its daily requirement of 1.1 billion gallons. The water would be supplied from Thatta district’s Keenjhar Lake via a 121-kilometre canal.
The alarming aspect of the project’s construction, however, is that, despite the purported completion of 70 % of the canal, the National Engineering Services Pakistan (NESPAK) has said that there were still alignment problems with the canal which may need to be corrected. This despite the conduct of appropriate feasibility studies at the project’s inception as well as repeated subsequent project design and alignment changes! And there is more by way of ineptitude. Much of the land for the project has still not been acquired, the electricity network to operate the filtration plants has not been fully installed, and pipelines to transport clean water to Karachi have not been laid. Furthermore, the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly has also alleged rampant project irregularities, changes in its route to favour influential elements, and numerous mistakes in its planning. And the cost? When the project was approved in 2011, its estimated cost was Rs25.5 billion. Today, it stands at Rs150 billion. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file a reference on the project. It is essential that the accountability watchdog determine exactly what has caused the much-heralded water project to go haywire so that remedial measures can be taken immediately. There is a lot at stake both for the citizens of Karachi and the financial health of Sindh.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 9th, 2019.