News Analysis |
Soaring temperatures and a dry spell has made matters worse for the fasting citizens of the twin cities, who are already facing acute water shortage. Despite a short rainy respite on Tuesday, water supply conditions in the Holy month of Ramadan have not improved in various parts of the Federal Capital.
Residents and department officials have attributed the shortage of drinking water to increasingly irregular water drilling as well as careless wastage of water through the supply line. Indications of “off the record” dealings made by some residents, with the Federal Government, to establish illegal water connections have also deepened the water crisis.
As two thirds of the Holy month of Ramadan has come to pass, citizens have complained to the CDA and have been voicing their discomfort to the media. Certain urban areas within Rawalpindi and Islamabad, as well as the surrounding semi-urban regions, have been paid little attention, according to the public.
Mrs. Iftikhar complained to the CDA several times but according to her “Any fruitful actions have yet to be taken.” She went on to add that the supply situation was intolerable since water from the CDA lines arrives once a week. “I have registered complaints about the water supply issue, but officials always say I have to wait,” she said.
CDA Chairman Usman Bajwa disclosed earlier last week that Islamabad’s demand (120 million gallons) is double the resources of water available to it. Meanwhile the tanker mafia, instead of easing the situation, is extremely overstretched and intends to cash in on the increasing desperation of the citizens.
To make matters worse, the CDA has also fallen back on the habit of erratic electricity load-shedding – More often in certain residential societies, bordering the urban centre or suburban housing areas. Such an intersection of issues would lead to even more problems.
Unannounced load-shedding was resumed during the times of Sehri, Iftar and even during the lengthy Taraweeh prayers. For working people and students such nuisances spell out into fatigue and loss of productivity. Citizens facing these hardships have not only taken to social media but are actively lobbying the ambitious Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar, spreading awareness about resource scarcity.
The more disadvantaged public was also forced out onto the streets to protest the shortage of water. A contingent of citizenry led by the Jamaat-e-Islami Islamabad, staged a sit-in outside the mayor’s office in G-6, last Monday. Led by the former MNA Mian Muhammad Aslam, the sit-in came days after the Mayor declared that the city was receiving less than half its required water supply. Objectives of the protestors included demands for repair of old pipelines and tube-wells, where CDA lets a large quantity of water go to waste daily.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar took notice of the demands on Monday as well as similar scarcity problems in cities across the whole country. Government and departmental officials have been summoned, on the 7th of June, to take measure of the situation.
Interestingly, the more upper class residential sectors of Islamabad; E-11, F-8, F-6 and F-7 of Islamabad experience no shortage or load shedding whereas the more humble (and more populated) sectors such as I-10, I-9, G-6, G-7, G-8, G-9 and G-10 suffer from random and extended shortages of water and electricity.
Similarly, adjacent lower middle class areas Rawalpindi; Tarlai, Alipur, Khanna, Sehala, Lohi bhair, Tarnol, Quaid-i-Azam Colony, Kashmir Colony, Zafar Plaza, Khayaban–e-Sir Syed and Cantonment areas face more shortages than central areas within Rawalpindi.
A representative at the CDA Water Directorate cited the ongoing load shedding, depletion of the underground water table and faulty equipment within old tube wells to be the main reasons behind the crisis. On condition of anonymity, he also mentioned how influential citizens could acquire illegal connections while CDA was “helpless” to take action against them.
Certain urban areas within Rawalpindi and Islamabad, as well as the surrounding semi-urban regions, have been paid little attention, according to the public.
Mrs. Iftikhar complained to the CDA several times but according to her “Any fruitful actions have yet to be taken.”
A beneficiary from the whole crisis is the Water Tanker mafia operating in the region, Opportunism has caused water tankers to raise prices from Rs. 2500 to Rs. 3500 per visit. The prices can go even higher with regards to third-party suppliers. Internal sources have tallied a total of eight tankers responsible for supplying water to capital residents.
In an enquiry at the F-6 Office, officials stated that the tankers are sent out to different offices based on complaints. In F-6 alone, they report around a hundred water-related complaints every day. At the G-7 office, an enquiry led to the 30-50 complaints being registered daily, with only one tanker servicing the thousands of residents within its area.
Unhappy citizens like Adil Sheeraz likened the scarcity of water and the refusal of CDA to provide it fairly to the historical event of Karbala. He wished that such hardships would be better understood by authorities in the Holy month of Ramadan but the negligence of CDA and RDA has proven their incompetence. When contacted, the CDA and RDA officials declined to comment and expressed ignorance of this alarming situation.
CDA Chairman Usman Bajwa disclosed earlier last week that Islamabad’s demand (120 million gallons) is double the resources (59 million gallons) of water available to it. Meanwhile, the tanker mafia, instead of easing the situation, is extremely overstretched and intends to cash in on the increasing desperation of the citizens. As the eight tankers roll out slowly each morning, most non-privileged citizens end up without water – Willing to purchase it the next day even if at a higher price.