Article courtesy of The News | May 16, 2015 | The News | Shared as educational material
Karachi is a water insecure mega-city; that is hardly a revelation to anyone living there. With water shortage returning to the city the past few weeks, it appears that the city government has done little to redress what is essentially a structural problem. The main water source supporting Karachi is located 125 kilometres away at Kalri. Water from the source is transported to various areas in the city through a mass conveyance system, whose primary vehicle is the water tanker. This is amplified by the Hub Dam, which is designed to add 100 million gallons per day, and various underground sources which have already crossed their design life. Official estimates reveal that the city needs at least 1,000 million gallons a day. Aggregate supply lies at a flimsy 544 million gallons a day. This is despite the operation of a private mafia that controls the city’s water supplies with the assistance of various government and paramilitary officials. The Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) appears to be both ill-equipped and uninterested in solving the water crisis. Moreover, the top brass of the city appears to be uninterested in aiding the flailing entity when they can benefit from the nepotism that runs through most government departments. Only a few days back was a list of the who’s who of the KWSB defaulters issued, which included the Governor’s House and most offices affiliated with the city’s top military and paramilitary brass.
In such a situation, claims by the Sindh Local Bodies Minister Sharjeel Memon that free distribution of water tankers would take place and the government would curb sale of water at higher rates than those fixed can only be taken with a pinch of salt. The reality is that illegal water hydrants have continued to operate and the hydrant mafia has continued to sell tankers at twice the market rate. KWSB issued advertisements in major newspapers advertising the fixed rates for receiving water via tankers. But who is going to report a tanker owner charging more money than stipulated amidst such a huge crisis? The major areas affected remain Orangi Town, Surjani Town, North Karachi and various parts of District Central. With the tussle between KWSB and K-Electric over the unpaid electricity bills looking unlikely to resolve anytime soon, there is no chance that the one week promise to resolve the crisis will be met. Planning solutions seem to be far away from people’s minds at the moment. Why would they when millions are being made by selling people their fundamental right to water?