A severe water crisis has, once again, hit the residential areas of Clifton and Defence Housing Authority, with some areas without a single drop of water for the past three days.
The worst affected areas are Phase V, Phase V Extension, Zamzama, Khadda Market, Shireen Jinnah Colony and nearly all blocks of Clifton.
The reason behind this severe shortage is an illegal water line that goes all the way to Bilawal House, claimed Defence Association Coordination Committee’s general secretary, Aziz Suharwardy. The association used to go by the name of ‘Defence Residents’ Association until recently.
“The main water trunk line crosses near the Teen Talwar roundabout,” Suharwardy explained, adding that this is the point where an illegal connection has been made to Bilawal House, the headquarters of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
“At least, five million gallons per day (MGD) is being stolen by Bilawal House,” he claimed. “Due to this illegal connection, the entire area is being deprived of water,” he claimed, regretting that residents have no other choice but to rely on commercial water tankers, which are also short in supply.
The Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) chief engineer, Riaz Sheikh, claimed they have not been receiving their entire share of water. “[On Monday] we received six million gallons per day (MGD) even though our minimum demand is nine MGD as bulk customers,” he said. Sheikh also pointed fingers at the ‘illegal connection’ at Bilawal House when asked about the water shortage.
However, a Bilawal House spokesperson, Ejaz Durrani, refuted these claims. “Bilawal House has never indulged in any illegal activity,” he said.
Suharwardy also accused to the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) of ‘creating a drama’ with its operation against illegal hydrants. Those hydrants that pay handsome bribes are back in business again, he said.
The KWSB in-charge of trunk lines, Zafar Palijo, told The Express Tribune that it was not possible that Bilawal House had managed to secure an illegal connection. “Illegal connections cannot be set up for any residential unit,” he said, promising an inquiry.
Meanwhile, DHA residents shared some grievances with the DHA and Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) authorities as well “The DHA and CBC only supply water to their favourite residents and the rest of us have to rely on water tankers,” said a resident of Phase V, on the condition of anonymity.
“A 3,000-gallon water tanker used to cost Rs3,000 but now a 2,500-gallon tanker costs somewhere between Rs6,000 and Rs8,000.”
CBC’s Sheikh denied supplying water to favourite residents. “We have reduced water complaints by nearly 80% and are serving all our residents equally,” he said.
Once the residents decide to buy the tankers, there is no guarantee it will make its way to their houses. “Last week, my driver managed to haggle successfully with a tanker owner and, it was on its way to our house, when two policemen appeared out of nowhere and took it away,” narrated the resident. “They [policemen] claimed they needed the water more.”
CBC is, however, negotiating with the government to supply water to the doors of the residents, according to Sheikh. “We will end the water crisis hopefully in the upcoming days,” he said.
According to Suharwardy, the water crisis can be overcome if the desalination plant starts working properly. “I don’t understand why the inquiry report into DA water filtration plant has not been made public yet,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 10th, 2015.