Karachi’s water woes increase as summer approaches


Issuance of a red alert by the spy agencies, that a water tanker carrying explosives can hit any public sector institute, is just the latest in a long line of problems that the city’s residents have to face when it comes to water.

With the start of the summer season, the problems are only expected to get worse.

Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) has said that the city may face a shortfall of 600 million gallons per day (MGD) of water in 2016 as demand has soared to 1242 mgd. The demand could go up by another 100 mgd, the Board said. Currently the KWSB is drawing 650 mgd of water from River Indus and Hub Dam, the two main water sources for Karachi.

The situation is expected to worsen further following the Supreme Court (SC) orders to the local government secretary and KWSB Managing Director (MD) Misbah-ud Din Fareed in December 2015 to stop supply of subsoil water to industries. The apex court directed both officials to formulate a policy in two weeks to end persisting water crises in the metropolis.

Closure of subsoil water hydrants supplying water to industries has deepened the crises. Many industry owners have now entered into a contract with the subsoil water hydrant operator in Sakraan, Balochistan and the water is being brought from there for industrial use. The quality of the subsoil water brought from Sakraan was tested in the laboratory and declared harmful for the health.

In view of the increasing shortfall, the KWSB has decided to increase the interval between supplies. In some areas, KWSB is supplying water with a gap of one day. However, the board has now decided to increase the interval to two days.


Although, KWSB, following the directives of the SC, has demolished all the subsoil water hydrants in the city, the water mafia had already tapped into the main supply lines. Statistics show that there are over 150 illegal water hydrants still operating in the city.

More than 25 illegal hydrants are operating in Malir, 35 in Baldia, 30 in Darshnaan Channa, while 40 illegal hydrants are functioning in Landhi and Korangi. As many as eight illegal hydrants are operating in front of Gabol Town Police Station, eight are operating in Wanghi Goth, Manghopir, while seven illegal hydrants are located in Ayub Goth.

A few days ago, unknown persons punctured the main water line outside a ghee company in SITE Area and installed a pumping station there. Another water line was punctured outside a soap factory where the perpetrators had started selling the water.

Karachi Water Tanker Owners Welfare Association (KWTOWA) General Secretary Iftikhar Ahmed Abbasi told this scribe that he wrote a letter to Sindh chief secretary and informed him about corruption and water theft committed by KWSB officials by taking action against subsoil hydrants. Abbasi claimed that KWSB closed 46 subsoil water hydrants, which the board had declared legal, following SC orders, but that 100 illegal water hydrants had surfaced following the closure of the 46 subsoil hydrants in December 2015.

He claimed that he had informed the Karachi commissioner in a meeting on February 2 about the 100 illegal water hydrants, but the KWSB officials had told him that they couldn’t close these illegal hydrants because if they dared, they would be removed from their posts.

Abbasi said that over 2,000 water tankers carrying subsoil water from Sakraan reach Karachi daily via Manghopir and Maripur.

“The SC has banned the use and supply of subsoil water in the city. So, why are water tankers carrying subsoil water entering the city?” Abbasi questioned.


The number of water tankers in the city has reached 8,000. Supplying water to homes and industries has emerged as one of the most profitable businesses in the financial-hub. Talking to this scribe, KWTOWA leader Irfan Dogar said supplying water to homes and industries is his family business.

Dogar, who owns 50 water carriers, said hydrant operators charge money from them illegally due to which they are forced to increase the price of the water tanker. He claimed that the number of water carriers is going to grow even further as the demand for water is going to be record high this summer following the closure of the subsoil hydrants.


The cost of water has risen steeply in the city because of illegal filling charges by KWSB hydrant operators and contractors. The owners of the water carriers claim that they are forced to pay higher rates compared to official water tanker filling rates. Irfan Dogar said the hydrant operators are charging Rs 500 for filling a 1,000-gallon water tanker, whereas the official rate of the KWSB is Rs 236. He said that they are paying Rs 800 as filling charges of a 2,000-gallon tanker against the KWSB rate of Rs 472, Rs 1,000-for 3,000 gallon water tanker while the official rate is Rs 700 and Rs 1,500 for a 5,000-gallon water tanker, even though the KWSB rate is Rs 1,100.

“If we buy water at a high price, how can we sell it cheaply?” Dogar said, and warned, “If the KWSB hydrant operators and contactors don’t stop illegal charging, the price of water tankers will be increased further.”

The owners of the water tankers are also not above making a quick buck by selling water at higher rates. The KWSB has directed the tankers’ owners to supply 1,000 gallons of water within five kilometers at Rs 1,000, but the operators are charging Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,500 from the consumers. The tanker owners are charging Rs 3,000 for a 2,000-gallon tanker, Rs 4,000 for a 3,000-gallon water and Rs 7,000 for a 5,000-gallon water tanker water from the general public.

Responding to the allegations leveled by water tanker owners, KWSB Hydrant In-charge Tabish Raza rejected the claims of the tanker owners. Raza claimed that the tanker operators are minting money by overcharging the consumers while they claim that they are paying illegal money to KWSB officials but this is not true.

“If you visit any hydrant in the city, you may see a list which displays the rates of the water and the tankers’ owners are not kind enough that they will pay extra,” Abbasi maintained. “I took charge of the office in December and demolished 80 subsoil hydrants and disconnected many hydrants which were taking water from KWSB lines illegally,” Abbasi said.

He confirmed that the board has decided to increase the interval between supplies in view of the water shortage.