President Asif Ali Zardari stepped in to salvage a key water supply project for the city on Monday, when he directed authorities to speed up the work on the KIV pipeline.
The Central Development Working Party (CDWP), the highest government body to take decisions on important projects, had earlier refused to fund the KIV project, and also raised questions about its estimated cost of Rs29.67 billion.
K-IV is 58 kilometers long and will bring water from Keenjar lake to Karachi via Nooriabad. It will pass between the National and Super highways and is an open canal. The KIV pipeline will initially add 260 million gallons per day (MGD) of water to KWSB’s system. Karachi already faces a serious water shortage, as its demand has surpassed supply by over 600 MGD. Areas such as Baldia, Orangi and Lyari are starved.
However, after the president’s intervention, officials said that the pipeline will be immediately approved by the federal government. “We will start working on it very soon,” said Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) Managing Director Misbahuddin Farid, after meeting the president. “An international tender will be issued within a week to hire a consultant to [propose] a detailed design of the pipeline,” he said. “We don’t need a lot of money, not for this year, at least.”
The KIV project has hit multiple snags since it was conceived in 2006. “The Indus River System Authority was not giving us additional supplies from the river,” said Farid. A Sindh Assembly standing committee recently allowed the city to share 260 MGD of water from rural Sindh’s quota for irrigation.
However, financial uncertainties remain. “We do not know about the respective [financial] burden that will be borne by the federal and provincial governments. They could decide to share the cost evenly, or one of them could contribute 60 per cent and leave 40 per cent for the other,” said Farid, before adding that the situation was not worrisome.
The last major water supply scheme for the city, KIII, was financed by the federal government. After the passage of the 18th constitutional amendment, however, the provinces have had to take on the responsibility of water projects.
Federal finance secretary Abdul Wajid Rana could not be contacted for the federal government’s stance on the issue despite repeated attempts.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2012.