KARACHI: An artificial water crisis appears to have been created in Karachi’s residential neighbourhood of Gulshan-e-Iqbal, for which a collaboration of top Sindh government officials and the city’s water board is to blame.
The artificial shortage, which has forced residents into buying expensive water tankers to make it through the month of Ramazan, has also increased business for private tanker owners who have been making bank on the extant water crisis.
Moreover, reports suggest that the area’s water shortage is linked to the Karachi Water and Sewage Board’s (KWSB) water trunk main department being involved in stealing water from the residential areas of Gulshan-e-Iqbal and siphoning it to a 24-hour hydrant at Nipa Chowrangi. Since the hydrant is used for refilling tankers throughout the day, residents of the affected neighbourhoods believe that the local tanker mafia has been robbing the citizens by selling them their own water at exuberant rates.
According to Syed Mujtaba Ali, a resident of Gulshan-e-Iqbal, a severe water crisis grips his neighbourhood every summer, intensifying during the month of Ramazan.
“Previously, whenever we filed complaints about the crisis with the relevant departments of the water board, we would be told that the shortage is due to the increase in population,” he said. “However, the government imposed the coronavirus lockdown almost two months ago, as a result of which all commercial and trade activities have remained suspended and water was once again being supplied to all areas of Gulshan-e-Iqbal with full pressure till the month of April.”
As soon as Ramazan started, though, the unprecedented water crisis once again returned to Gulshan-e-Iqbal, claimed Ali. “According to the schedule, the area is still being supplied with water for six hours four days a week but there is no water in our taps to show for it,” he added.
Flour mills closed in Punjab, K-P, Balochistan
Speaking to The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity, a KWSB official shared that the entire water board system is too dilapidated to function, while its water trunk main department is also riddled with corruption and bribery.
“There are two water supply systems in the city and each has its own superintendent engineers and staff. The water trunk main system handles canals coming from River Indus, Hub Dam and bulk lines, whereas the local water distribution system supplies water to houses and residential areas through pipelines, valve operations and gravity,” he explained.
“When the trunk main fails to supply water to the local system, water cannot be supplied to the houses in the area either,” the source informed. “This is all done to create an artificial water crisis to help boost the business of the tanker mafia. This scheme is not only peddled within the water board, but is also endorsed and supplemented by top Sindh government officials, while the citizens who foot the water board’s bill are forced to buy expensive tanker water,” he claimed.
On the other hand, a KWSB spokesperson, when contacted by The Express Tribune, denied the allegations and said that no water from Gulshan-e-Iqbal was being siphoned to the Nipa hydrant.
“Technically speaking, this is impossible. The water shortage is only attributed to higher demand and lower supply in view of the increasing population. Currently, the water board is faced with a shortfall of 55 per cent, which has affected water supply in various areas of the city,” he reiterated.
“Furthermore, contrary to claims, the Nipa hydrant only operates 18 hours a day while the supply to commercial tankers is completely cut off. Only water tankers operating at official rates of Rs1,000 for a 1,000 gallon tanker, Rs1,400 for 2,000 gallons and Rs1,800 for 3,000 gallons, are accommodated at the hydrant. In addition to that, free water tankers are also provided to several unprivileged areas under the supervision of the deputy commissioner,” he asserted.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th, 2020.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ