For the past one month, water shortages in the coastal areas of Karachi have become more acute than ever, forcing residents from some 300 villages to travel long distances to procure water for daily use.
Local Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader and ex-nazim UC Gabopat, Mubarak Sanghu, said people living in the suburbs were never able to benefit from the water schemes developed for Karachi dwellers.
The inhabitants of these coastal villages, especially Keamari, have been left in a hapless situation despite the implementation of water schemes like the K-II and K-III. “These villagers don’t have a lot of expectations from the upcoming K-IV project either.”
“Despite a population bulge, the water quota that was set by civic agencies of Karachi almost 30-35 years back has not been revised,” he said. Also, for the past 25 years, successive governments have failed to resolve the issue.
“We demand that the government increase the quota of water supply, and make room for people living on the outskirts to benefit from the upcoming water programme.”
Zafar Baloch, a local activist, said at least 80 villages in Gadap did not have a proper water supply system in place for the past 66 years. “For cultivation, these people have been relying on natural waterways or ponds filled during monsoon seasons, but the recent dearth of rain forces them to purchase water from private tankers.”
On the other hand, Union Council Gadap has only three water tankers to supply water to remote areas, which, according to the locals, are insufficient to meet their growing water needs. They accuse officials concerned of doing profitable business by selling water to private firms, instead of supplying it to the people.
A scheme was developed to put an end to water shortage in four villages, Umed Ali Gabol, Aali Gabol, Nabi Bux Gabol and Haji Qasim Gabol, but the pumping machine is out-of-order for the past one month, resulting in an acute water crisis.
Meanwhile, officials of the Gadap UC administration say they don’t have enough funds for the maintenance or repair of machines, and faulty pumps.
Sajid Baloch, in-charge UC water tankers, said it was impossible for them to manually supply water to 80 villages, which do not have the government’s direct water supply lines.
People in these areas usually depend on the UC tankers for their water supply, however in case of emergency; they are left with no option but to spend exorbitant amounts on buying water from private tankers.
Idrees Azad, another activist, pins the blame on the local PPP leadership for not implementing any water programme, despite a budget of Rs800 million for Gadap. “And now they’re afraid of the peoples’ wrath,” Azad said.
Every day, the women of Mahar Ali Jokhio village have to travel around six kilometres to fetch water, as their supply line was disconnected without any reason.
“Nobody is there to tell why several water plans were left incomplete after being taken up,” said Ghafoor Kachelo, another local worker.
Similar problems are faced by the residents of Bin Qasim Town, where residents of some16 villages came together to hold a protest on the national highway against water shortage.
Water supply to these areas was severed by some officials, although a few years back, all the villages had secure water connections.
Meanwhile, district government officials have linked the current water shortage to the prolonged power outages.