While the recent floods have inundated many parts of Balochistan, access to clean water still remains a pressing concern for the people of the province.
Adviser to the Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Fauzia Marri said on Monday a desalination plant would not solve the problem in Gwadar as that would cost Rs8 per bottle of water.
Dr Marri told lawmakers during the Balochistan Assembly session that Pakistan Navy’s initiative of bringing in water from Karachi was not a long-term solution. “Gwadar city is said to be the future commercial capital of Balochistan but people are still waiting for drinking water.”
She said that water from adjoining areas was flowing in to the sea and questioned why the government was not building dams on the rivers close to Gwadar to tap into those reserves. “It is unjust and discriminatory for the people of the area.”
Earlier, a joint resolution moved by Mir Hamal Kalmati, Mir Zahoor Buledi, Mir Assadullah Baloch and Asghar Rind called for the immediate approval of a feasibility report prepared for the resolution of the water crisis. They also demanded prompt release of funds for completion of the under-construction desalination plant in Gwadar and Shadi Kaur Dam, besides initiation of a Gwadar water pipeline from Mirani Dam.
Lawmakers said that though the government was providing water through tankers, it wasn’t enough to fulfill to the needs of the people.
Another resolution was passed to declare the flood-hit districts of Balochistan ‘calamity-hit’ areas.
The resolution, moved by Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mir Abdul Rehman Jamali, PML-Q’s Sheikh Jaffar Mandokhel and Tariq Bugti, maintained that the recent flood has ravaged hundreds of thousands acres of land in Nasirabad, Jaffarabad, Dera Bugti, Jhal Magsi, Musakhel districts. It demanded the government to give special preference to the said areas, besides providing compensation to the flood victims.
In his speech, Mir Jamail appreciated Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf’s visit to the affected areas of Balochistan and announced a Rs2.6 billion relief package. He also thanked the Pakistan Army for carrying out relief operations. He, however, lamented that thousands of people were still marooned.
Tariq Bugti demanded the government to write off the loans of farmers, citing large scale devastation; while senior minister Maulana Abdul Wasey urged the government to pledge Rs15 billion for rehabilitation work in Balochistan. The session was adjourned till September 27.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 25th, 2012.
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