Promises are meant to be broken. Politicians know this all too well. Come election time, they attempt to sway the public with popular rhetoric and slogans of change, only to renegade from them once they have managed to come into power. It is an age-old tactic, one that has come to be accepted as a norm in Pakistan.
On April 26 during a rally at Kakri Ground, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairperson, Asif Ali Zardari, had promised the people of Lyari that the water crisis in the district would be resolved within three months. The deadline passed a few days ago; the promise was broken once again.
During his public address to the jiyalas, Zardari had instructed Sindh chief minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, who was standing beside him, to resolve one of the biggest issues of the residents within three months. The same week, Shah conducted a meeting at the CM House and directed officials to take immediate measures. Lyari, on the other hand, faced an acute shortage hardly a week after the jalsa instead of the promised smooth supply.
Round the clock, Lyari's residents queue up at different hydrants across the neighbourhood to fill up their containers with the precious commodity. They carry the heavy containers back to their houses in rickshaws, on push carts and on motorcycles. Others who do not have the means, balance the containers on their heads, shoulders and waist as they make their way home.
Not a new problem
"Fetching water is part of my routine life," said Haleema, a resident of UC 2. She has been filling water from the communal taps for as long as she can remember. "All the family members, including children, fetch water. It is just like a remote area where women fetch water from far-flung areas." Haleema, like the other women of her area, complained to The Express Tribune that the people of Lyari were forced to spend much of their time and money on the procurement of a simple commodity like potable water. "It was merely an announcement," she commented on the former president's promise.
To address issues such as water shortage and look into the development of Lyari, a committee headed by Senator Taj Haider, comprising Sharjeel Inam Memon, Lyari MPA Javed Nagori and PPP South president Haji Qasim Baloch was constituted. The step has, however, been limited to the establishment of the committee.
Even the party's own leaders, MPA Sania Naz and MNA Shahjahan Baloch, allege that Haider and Memon have never visited Lyari in the last three months. "Public representatives have been ignored by the committee," lambasted Sania "The issue exists and has never been addressed yet despite the clear instructions of Zardari sahib."
Though Lyari's only MNA Shahjahan Baloch also admitted that not a single step had been taken by the committee, and said that "almost 80 per cent of the issue had been resolved." Criticising government machinery, Baloch claimed that 'mismanagement' was responsible for the water crisis in the PPP's stronghold. "Memon [former local government minister] never bothered to listen to us," he disclosed, adding that Memon was not serious about address Lyari's issue.
For his part, Taj Haider claimed that it could take three more months for the problem to be resolved. He hoped that RO plants will address the issue permanently, adding that three water plants had been set up but only one is functional at the moment. A pipeline from sea will be provided to Lyari as the area does not have sufficient water underground, he added.
Contrary to the residents' arguments, Haider believes that the issue exists outside Lyari, not within it. "The problem is at Dhabeji pumping station." He said that at least 30MW electricity was required. "We have proposed 50MW wind power plant to be built near the site, after which the whole city will get plenty of water."
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2015.
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