Water shortage deepens in Karachi as summer begins


KARACHI: Water shortage in Karachi has started deepening as warm weather arrives in the megacity of Pakistan.  Citizens in many areas have been compelled to drink contaminated water. These areas include Lyari, Baldia, Orangi, Keamari, Shershah and parts of Gulistan-e-Johar. Despite several protests across the city and raising of voice in Sindh Assembly in almost every session, there is no respite.

According to a report, 40 per cent water in Karachi is being wasted due to leakages, whereas District West faces acute water as the water level in Hub Dam is low. The city is getting low water supply to the pumping stations due to non-desilting of water channel from Keenjhar Lake, which is a bulk water supply source for the city.

Despite having the potential and capacity of our industry for designing and fabricating wastewater/sewage treatment plants locally, only a meagre portion of industrial wastewater is being treated and reused.  There is a need to recycle water beside using sea water for washing purposes.

A water tanker of 1000 gallons is in Baldia and Orangi towns is sold for Rs2500, which is slightly brackish. The citizens in many areas are running from pillar to post to get drinking water. Citizens in many areas are purchasing can and bottled water that raises their expenditures.  Well to do people are able to purchase this water, while poor are unable to buy it due to low income.  A 19-litre water bottle costs Rs 40 while a 13-litre bottle costs Rs 25.

Karachi faces an acute water shortage as the K-IV water project could still not be completed despite the passage of a long time. Karachi has 14.91 million population that shows an increase of 59.8 per cent in 19 years.  Fact is that Sindh government should also start another water project having a capacity of K-IV project besides completing all water projects timely so that citizens could take a sigh of relief. However, Sindh Chief Minister is of the view that the federal government should raise water share for Karachi from Indus River as Karachi houses a population of four provinces.

Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) said in a report that the total demand for the city of 22 million people is 1188 MGD. The bulk water sources for Karachi are Indus River with 550 MGD capacity and Hub Dam with 100 MGD capacity.  The average water supply from Indus River has come down to 450 MGD, whereas Hub Dam supply has dropped to 30-50 MGD recently. Thus, the city faces 638 MDG water shortage. The government needs to provide drinking water immediately to save citizens from torments of salty water, water-borne diseases and extra water expenditures in this price hike era.

There is a need to ensure proper water distribution system in the metropolis by installing new pipelines and removing old ones, besides taking actions against water pilferage.

There is a need to raise special water share for the city from Indus River because of the fact that people from four provinces of Pakistan are living here for various purposes including business and labour work.

The climate change is causing a water shortage in the country and the worst hit in Karachi.  Karachi’s both urban and rural areas are worst hit by climate change. There is also a drop in rains in Karachi and its outer areas, as a result, the water level in Hub Dam has gone down. It all is because of climate change. Pakistan is assessed to be one of the vulnerable countries to climate change. This vulnerability is mainly due to its geographic location, demographic and diverse climatic conditions. Building resilience and adaptation to climate change is becoming indispensable for Pakistan. Fortunately, environmentally sound technologies are gaining a high priority in sustainable development policy dialogue and implementing frameworks.

Technology Needs Assessment (TNA) is one of the important steps towards identifying and assessing climate change adaptation challenges for Pakistan in order to align its adaptation needs and opportunities with goals and objectives of its sustainable development. Furthermore, to mitigate the impact of climate change, the government has taken different initiatives, one of them is Green Pakistan. Under this programme, 100 million trees would be planted around the country in five years.

Climate change is a geographic problem and reducing the risks caused by climate change is an immense challenge. Pakistan is consistently ranked by multiple climate change vulnerability indices as being one of the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change due to drought, floods, heat waves, and glacial lake outburst floods in the past few decades.

The government is cognizant of this issue and is taking strategic adaptation measures at the policy management and operational level to minimize the global warming effects. Further efforts to overcome the challenges of climate change are made through enacting legislation, setting standards and developing and implementing policies for a secure and lively environment. The existing and proposed measures being taken by the government would help to address the climate change issues effectively.