Residents paying through the nose to water tankers


Islamabad is considered to be one of the most developed world capitals but that does not imply that its residents are free of worries. The ‘privileged’ Islooites of sectors G and I, with anger evident on their faces, can be seen carrying empty buckets in their hands queued up to fetch water from nearby mosques and markets.
The residents of the said sectors are facing a water shortage as water supply by the government authorities usually remains suspended for days because of water shortage in the dams and out-of-order tubewells. The residents have no choice but to buy costly water tankers. The water crisis hits the capital every year in March/April. Now with the advent of monsoon, residents are looking forward to rains to fill the Khanpur Dam, Simly Dam and Rawal Dam – the three main reservoirs supplying water to Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
The demand for water in the capital is estimated at over 100 million gallons per day (mgd), whereas the supply these days is only around 57 mgd, showing an over 40 percent gap in the demand and supply. This is mainly because the water level in all the three dams has gone down. As a short-term measure, the capital city managers have resorted to the use of dozens of water tankers that ply daily on the roads of Islamabad and Rawalpindi in different sectors to supply water.
“Gone are the days when I would wake up with first thoughts of my business concerns in different parts of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. It’s now the water shortage that is on my mind all the time,” says an Islamabad-based builder living in sector G-8, Abdul Rashid. “The government water supplier charges Rs 35 but for that you have to wait for hours and sometimes for days. If one wants quick water supply, one can pay around Rs 300 to Rs 400 to the water supplier, who will then supply water the same day,” he said.
A housewife at Sector I-10, Bushra Asif, said that she was considering shifting from the capital to some remote village owing to the water shortage.
A CDA official, seeking anonymity, said that out of around 180 tube-wells in Islamabad, over 50 were out-of-order. “The underground water level has also gone down which too has impacted the supply of water through the tube-wells,” he said.
In Rawalpindi, apart from Rawal Dam, around 270 tube-wells are meant to provide 21 mgd water daily to different localities. But almost half of the tube-wells are out-of-order. Shamsabad, Dhok Kashmirian, Sadiqabad, Dhoke Kala Khan, parts of Satellite Town, Kohati Bazaar and cantonment areas including Lalazar Colony and New Lalazar, RA Bazaar, Gharibabad and Tench Bhatta are the worst hit areas.
Another major reason for water shortage is the rusty main water supply pipes that have not been replaced for decades. The CDA official said that half of the 57 mgd water being supplied to Islamabad was wasted because of leakage. He said the authority was undertaking long-term measures to ensure smooth supply of water to the capital city in coming years and one such project was that of ‘rain water harvesting’ which would help increase the level of ground water in Islamabad. He said power load shedding was also contributing to the water crisis.