Where there is tanker, only there is water
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
“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
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
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
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.
Presidential address to the joint sitting of parliament