Capital’s rural areas deprived of potable water


The federal capital’s rural areas have no clean drinking water as there is only one water filtration plant compared to 37 in relatively rich urban areas.
This discrimination with the population of rural areas has put their health in danger as they are being forced to drink contaminated water. These rural areas of the Islamabad have a population of more than 8 lakh and encompass 133 villages and administratively consist of 12 Union Councils.
The only filtration plant is installed in the Union Council Bharakau. Pakistan Council for Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) confirmed that people living in rural areas of the Capital have been drinking dirty water.
A research published by the PCRWR on September 7 revealed that 59 percent of water samples taken in Islamabad ’s suburban areas were contaminated. “We have no access to clean drinking water and as a result our children fall victim to water-borne diseases,” said Shaeena Naz, 45, a house wife who has been residing in Phulgrain village for 22 years.
Commenting on the issue, Dr Waseem Khawaja, a senior doctor in Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) said that due to consumption of contaminated water the children often contract Hepatitis (A and B) and diarrheal diseases.
“By drinking unsafe water the residents can also contract protozoa, viruses or bacteria etc,” said Dr Khawaja.
In 2004 the Federal Environment Ministry started a project to install 13 filtration plants in the said areas. However, seven years had passed without any progress being made in the regard. Talking to Pakistan Today, a development officer of Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration, Mirza Qamar said that in 2004 Environment Ministry the ICT after completing the survey had handed over the files to ministry.
He said that later in 2007 the Environment Ministry shifted the project to the Ministry of Industries and Production.
Later still in 2009, the PPP-led government shifted the project to Ministry of Special Initiative which was devolved to the provinces under the 18th amendment before the project was executed. Finally the project was forwarded to the Planning commission. Currently it was under the supervision of this commission but no progress had ensued.
Arshad Mahmood, an inhabitant of Bharakau, held the political leaders of his constituency responsible for the shortage of clean drinking water. He said that at the time of elections, the politicians came to people’s door-steps, vowing to resolve their issues but after being elected they paid no heed their issues.
In majority of rural areas, there is no water connection in people’s houses and they had to fetch the contaminated water from places located miles away from their homes.
“Every summer, the people of Bharakau, Sowan, Phulgrain and Humak have to face worst scarcity of water but the authorities have failed to initiate any significant project to resolve this issue,” said Waqar Khan a student, who has been living in Sowan for the last 4 years. Another inhabitant of Sowan, Muhammad Shuban said that he used to fetch clean drinking water from a filtration plant of the neighboring Dhoke Kala Khan (the area falls in the Jurisdiction of Rawalpindi) for his children by walking 30 minutes.
He said the rural areas of the Federal Capital had full representation in both houses of Parliament but unfortunately it seemed the leaders had no time to discuss people’s issues.
The leader of House in Senate Syed Nayar Hussain Bokhari and PML-Nawaz MNA Tariq Fazal Chaudhry are representing the people of the rural areas in Parliament. The Capital Development Authority (CDA) was supposed to deal with the development of urban areas while the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration was supposed to look after the affairs of the rural areas of Federal Capital.