Dry spell: Supply crisis continues because KWSB does not pay its bill

Even the private contractors don’t have water to supply.

Our Correspondent April 17, 2012


Nearly half of the city faces acute shortage of water, triggering protests from the people. The people have no choice but to buy expensive water from private contractors but even there water is scarce.

However, Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) says it can’t do anything about the problem because its main pumping station at Dhabeji does not have electricity for hours every day.

A member of Clifton Cantonment Board, Aziz Suharwardy, says that the water crisis was forcing people on to the streets. “The entire DHA and Clifton faces a severe water crisis,” he says. The area was being supplied seven million gallons per day (MGD) but now the supply has dropped to only 3.5MGD.

“I don’t know anything about the tussle between KWSB and KESC. And I really don’t care.” exclaims Aslam Gujjar, a representative of the residents’ association in Gizri. “All I know is that 20,000 people in my area are suffering.”

The board owes billions of rupees in unpaid bills to Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC), which says it has no other option but to shed the load at Dhabeji to make up for the loss.

The water utility has five pumps connected to the KESC, which cuts off power to only one pump at a time, says the KESC spokesman. “The board has become a chronic defaulter. It owes us Rs17 billion,” he says. “And now they have even stopped paying their monthly bills for the last six months.” The monthly bill comes between Rs350 and Rs400 million.

Both the organisations have taken their case to the Sindh governor a number of times. Every time it is announced that the matter has been settled, but the issues resurface after a few days.

Since the people don’t know how a five-hour power cut at Dhabeji can cause the entire water supply system to collapse, they question the board for its claims. According to the water board, Karachi’s total water consumption stands at 650 MGD but the actual demand is 1,080 MGD. Out of this, Dhabeji pumping station only supplies 580 MGD. Iftikhar Ahmed, the chief engineer at KWSB, says that the board can’t create an artificial crisis.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2012.


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