Water filtration service to be centralised

Over 2,000 plants in Punjab out of order

Afzal Talib May 27, 2024
The unavailability of sufficient usable water resources can lead to food security issues in an agriculture-based economy with a burgeoning population. PHOTO: file


The Punjab government has decided to transfer the responsibility of the filtration plants installed to provide clean drinking water from all departments to the Aab-e-Pak Authority.

According to officials, the decision aims to ensure that the funding, monitoring and accountability related to the plants are centralised under one authority. Funding to repair the malfunctioning plants has also been assured.

The decision was taken after Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz Sharif held detailed discussions with officials from various departments responsible for overseeing the filtration plants across Punjab. The departments included WASA, the Aab-e-Pak Authority, municipal corporations, health and public health departments, local government department, Pak PWD, education department and Saaf Pani Company. A briefing was given to the CM on the condition of the filtration plants, which showed a worsening situation.

She was informed that lack of maintenance of the plants was causing health problems among citizens.

At least 5,027 filtration plants have been installed across the province under the supervision of the various departments, out of which 2,960 are operational, while 2,067 are out of order due to machinery breakdown, failure to change filters, lack of regular water sampling checks,  improper maintenance and monitoring.

The Punjab government has spent billions of rupees on installing 1,448 plants to provide clean water to the residents, while millions of rupees are spent annually on the maintenance and other expenses.

The residents of the served areas were not informed about the department responsible for operating a particular plant, making it difficult to report any problems. 

The chief minister was informed that the Saaf Pani Company could not spend more than Rs50 million in the past six years, at least 1,448 plants needed to be immediately repaired and Rs10 million was required to install a monitoring system.

Sources said that the provincial government would soon release the amount, but before that a decision has been made to streamline the management of the plants across Punjab by unifying the responsibility currently exercised by a number of departments.

The responsibilities for the maintenance and management of all filtration plants will be withdrawn from eight departments and solely entrusted to the authority so that it can be held accountable.

The sources said amendments to laws, including changing the name of the Aab-e-Pak Authority, had been approved.

Provincial Local Government Minister Zeeshan Rafiq said it had been decided that sanitation and water facilities would be provided in rural areas on the pattern of cities throughout Punjab. A decision has also been made to consolidate the operation of over 5,000 filtration plants, which are currently under the control of various authorities, under a single agency.

The said the decision was aimed at ensuring that funds are disbursed to a single entity, monitoring is centralised and accountability is carried out.

Aab-e-Pak Authority CEO Syed Zahid Aziz told The Express Tribune said the decision about which institution would be assigned the responsibility would be taken by the chief minister.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 27th, 2024.


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