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Where there is tanker, only there is water PDF Print E-mail
By Ishtiaq Rao
ISLAMABAD, May 29 (APP): Holding a water bucket in his hand, Zareef Khan, an octogenarian was heading towards his slum dwelling in sector F-6 to fulfill water needs of his eight-member family.This practice was very common and only he as a sufferer could gauge the pangs of water-less days and nights.“No one is there to pity our plight since last one week. We are forced to live without water. Is this how they would develop Islamabad as world’s modern city where even basic facilities are scarce,” he commented having a sigh while placing the bucket on roadside.Khan is one of hundreds of the residents who register their complaints with the Capital Development Authority’s inquiry office. But every time they are made to wait throughout the day and sometimes till the next day for nothing but a disappointment.


The CDA receives around 1200 complaints a day to receive water tankers but the civic agency has the capacity to address only 700 complaints, leaving remaining 500 houses without water.
“We have to request neighbours for water who have their own water pump but they too cannot afford accommodating everyone,” Zareef Khan said who had recently been told that CDA could not supply water to their slum owing to shortage.
Khan is the sole bread earner of the family but he has to leave his fruit stall unattended in nearby locality to arrange water for the family.
Despite experiencing water scarcity each year, the CDA has failed to devise strategy to cope with the situation as city’s population has swelled to 1.7 million.
City’s daily water requirement has reached to 150 million gallons. Its major portion 65 MGD comes from Simly and Khanpur Dams.  Moreover, water capacity of both the reservoirs has been reducing gradually due to silting as well as reduced ratio of rains and excessive construction in the catchment areas.
Particularly, in summer season, thousands of federal capital’s residents are made to bank upon water tankers to fulfill their water needs particularly those located on elevated altitude.
But the CDA, having annual budget of financial outlay of around Rs24 billion has only 18 tankers in its fleet to address 1200 complaints every day.
“Everyone wants to receive water tanker first. We have to accommodate everyone using the available tankers. Some people use influence while others offer ‘incentives’,” said an attendant at CDA’s inquiry office amidst buzzes of telephone.
He said people might be thinking us as negligent but “believe me, our tankers are running on roads round the clock.”
Owing to funds scarcity, the number of operational water tankers has also decreased to 18 now from 25 in previous years because many of them had been lying dysfunctional.
All what the residents have been facing is the brunt of CDA’s negligence that has failed to upgrade city’s waterworks as recommended by the Islamabad’s Greek architect Doxiadis even after decades.
The number of registered water users of Islamabad is about 0.8 million and CDA is dependent on 40 year old water supply network. Half of the water supplied from CDA’s system seeps out of rusty and broken pipelines.
Director General Water Management Wing Sanaullah Aman said, CDA is trying to add another six tankers in their fleet to address increased number of complaints.
He said power outage also causes water shortage when its schedule clashes with that of power supply that causes pressure on water tankers service.
He said the CDA has also to carry out water rationing to ensure water availability till the raining season although it has a network of around 180 tube wells which can contribute around 26MGD. But power outage, and technical breakdown hamper their functioning as many of them were installed some 25 years ago.
The CDA has targeted to generate Rs231 million under the head of water charges during fiscal 2011-12, but the water supply situation gives a contrary picture.
Besides, the hygiene condition of the water bowsers is also questionable because there seems to be no mechanism with the CDA for their scientific cleansing to make water safe for drinking.
Tankers are rarely chlorinated and usually kept open exposing the water to polluted environment that blends contagions.
However, Sanaullah Aman said bowsers are regularly chlorinated and a special team has been constituted to keep eye on water quality and carry out frequent tests.
He said a Rs10 billion project to rehabilitee and city’s waterworks has been delaying owing to funds scarcity. Moreover, another project for conduction of water pipeline from Ghazi Barotha is also under consideration. A ministerial committee has also convinced the provinces to share their water share with Islamabad.
Whatsoever steps are being taken by the city fathers to bridge water shortage, they need to work out long term strategies to seek permanent solution. Water supply through tankers is a temporary solution and is a constant financial burden on residents, let alone the issue of water quality.
 

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