KARACHI: Population growth, commercialization and authorities’ negligence seem behind Karachi water crisis. The metropolis is among the world’s fastest-growing cities where people from all provinces of the country are coming in large number on daily basis for earning their livelihood and most of them are settling here while the water sources are same since years, according to a PPI survey report released on Sunday.
According to the survey, Karachi has 14.91 million population that shows an increase of 59.8 per cent in 19 years. The rise in population in the city has become a danting challenge for the Sindh government to provide water to the citizens. The opening of new hotels, shops, restaurants, factories, and business companies in two decades has taken a major share of water which the citizens used to get easily.
The citizens in many areas have been compelled to drink contaminated water or purchase bottled water which is very costly. The water-shortage has hit almost all areas of the city including Baldia, Lyari, Orangi, Keamari, Gul Bai, Shershah, Korangi Industrial Area, Sheerin Jinnah Colony, Site Industrial Area, Korangi, Defence, Clifton, Qayumabad, Quaidabad, Landhi, Burns Road, and Sohrab Goth.
The drinking water situation has turned so worst in these areas that a family spends Rs2500 to Rs4,000 on drinking water monthly. Sindh government is of the view that the federal government should raise water share for Karachi from Indus River as Karachi houses a population of four provinces while the federal government has no response in this regard. As a result, citizens are suffering lot due to water scarcity.
The total water demand for the city is 1188 MGD. The bulk water sources for Karachi are Indus River with 550 MGD capacity and Hub Dam with 100 MGD capacity. The average water supply from Indus River has come down to 450 MGD.
A report says Karachi loses 40 per cent water due to leakages as the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board has failed to maintain pipelines. A water tanker of 1000 gallons is being sold for Rs3000 in many areas, which is slightly brackish. Citizens in many areas have been compelled to purchase bottled water. A 19-litre water bottle is sold at Rs 50 to 90 in many areas of the city while a 13-litre bottle costs Rs25 to Rs30. Sometimes, bottled water go short as the water business is booming.
According to National Forum for Environment and Health (NFEH) President Mohammad Naeem Qureshi, the residents of Defence and Clifton pay Rs70 billion per month on tanker water supply. The people of these areas also get water more costly.
The water needs of industries are also rising due to raise in their production in view of their demand in Karachi and other parts of the country due to population rise. Almost all industries of Karachi are facing water shortages. They include SITE Karachi, Korangi Industrial Area, Landhi Industrial Area, North Karachi Industrial Area, Federal B Industrial Area, Korangi Creek Industrial Park, Bin Qasim Industrial Zone, Karachi Export Processing Zone Landhi, Pakistan Textile City, West Wharf Industrial Area Keamari, SITE Super Highway Phase-I, and SITE Super Highway Phase-II.
A Water Commission Report says a total of 19 RO plants in Karachi have been installed through KWSB. Of them, six were installed in Lyari and 13 in Keamari town. Of them, two are non-functional. These RO plants are non-functional due to negligence of authorities.
The water level in the Indus River is also reducing as a result, Sindh government was unable to provide more water to Karachi. However, citizens and political leaders are of the view that the Sindh government should invest money to establish seawater filtration plants to meet the water needs of Karachi like Dubai where there is no land water, but the provincial government seems less interested in this regard.
According to a federal government report, erratic weather patterns and climate change have emerged as the biggest environmental challenges that are affecting water resources. Pakistan is a signatory to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 6 i.e. to provide safe drinking water to 95 percent of the population. Hence, the government needs to provide safe drinking water to Karachiites so as to keep them safe and healthy. The federal government should raise water share from Indus River for Karachi as people of other provinces in millions are living here.