KARACHI: Karachi is baking hot. And there is no water to quench its thirst. The civic authorities have once again failed to deliver. Even private water suppliers have fallen short on the demand as the mercury has risen in the last couple of weeks.
"The people in our area are being forced to even perform ablution with mineral water bottles," lamented Amir Arab, the spokesperson for the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC). He added that it had become difficult to procure commercial water tankers as two of the water pumps at the Dhabeji pumping station had gone out of order. "Currently, we are receiving only three to four million gallons of water per day (MGD), against the demand of nine million gallons," he claimed. "Our station commander even offered to get these pumps repaired but the authorities paid no heed."
For his part, the newly-appointed managing director of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB), Hashim Raza Zaidi, said the shortage was not just affecting the Defence Housing Authority and Clifton but the rest of the city too. "I do not wish to repeat the old rhetoric and reasons for the shortage of water but the reality is that almost all the major institutions, including the CBC, are defaulters of the KWSB," he claimed. "If these institutions don't clear their dues, how can the KWSB ensure smooth supply of water to the city?" he questioned.
Zaidi added that these institutions should bear in mind the problems faced by residents of slum areas due to the shortage of water. "Residents of these low-income areas don't even have the resources to procure water from private tankers," he said.
According to the MD, the three major reasons for the water shortage were leaking supply lines, unpaid dues by large institutions and out-of-order pumps at the Dhabeji pumping station. With the Dhabeji station operating far below its capacity, most of the load has been transferred to the North East Karachi pumping station, which has subsequently affected the entire supply chain. "Last but not least, the Hub Dam has gone dry."
The CBC spokesperson denied, however, the allegations of unpaid bills. "On the 25th of each month, the KWSB receives a cheque from the CBC," he claimed, adding that the water crisis in the CBC was due to criminal negligence on the part of the KWSB officials.
"They are simply pinning the blame on us to save themselves," said Arab. "The fact is that two of the pumps have gone out of order at the Dhabeji station and they have not been able to fix them," he said. The spokesperson added that the CBC had signed a contract with the KWSB for the supply of nine MGD but the latter was only supplying around three to four MGD. "And then they claim we are defaulters of Rs80 million," he said incredulously. "I think this is a big joke."
Commissioner Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui has taken notice of the water crisis in the city and claimed he had written a letter to the KWSB officials, advising them of the increasing number of complaints regarding the issue. "The water board's officials have been directed to ensure the water crisis is resolved as soon as possible," said Siddiqui.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2015.
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