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Karachi: Around 45,000 houses in DHA facing acute water shortage

Karachi: Since the advent of summer, around 45,000 household units of Defence Housing Authority (DHA) and Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) have been facing an acute water crisis ostensibly due to the phenomenal decrease of water supply by Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) to the CBC.

The KWSB is supposed to provide nine million gallons water daily (MGD) for the needs of the CBC residents but this supply has sharply decreased since last few months. The prolonged breakdown of Defence Cogen Desalination and Power Plant since September 2008 has been another major factor aggravating the water supply situation in the area as the desalination plant was supposed to provide three MGD water supply for the DHA residents.

A statement of the CBC on May 19, 2009 said that the water being demanded by the CBC is 14 MGD whereas the water supplied to it by the KWSB is 6.4 MGD. For the last several weeks, numerous residents of the DHA have been left with no option but to frequently avail water tanker service of the cantonment board or other private operators to fulfill their household needs.

An affected resident of Khayaban-e-Hilal in DHA Phase-VI said that his area had a chronic water shortage problem, as previously his household had to bring in a water tanker after 15 to 18 days and now it becomes necessary after every eight to ten days. He said that according to the CBC officials, water supply through pipeline should come every alternate day for one-and-half hours but sometimes it takes four to five days before regular pipeline water supply gets resumed. One-and-half hour supply of water roughly means 440 gallons, which is again insufficient for any household’s water supply needs.

CBC Senior Cantonment Engineer, Water Supply, Major (retd) Muhammad Saleem Khan Khattak said that the at the meeting with the managing-director KWSB on Friday at the Corps-V Headquarters, the water board committed that it would increase its water supply to cantonment board to 8.5 MGD. He said that since February 2009 the water supply from the KWSB had sharply decreased and even after passage of three months the CBC had been getting on average 7.1 to 7.5 MGD water supply. He said that at present the DHA or CBC demand for water supply stood at 14 MGD. He said the water tanker service of cantonment board had been free of cost for area residents, as they had been paying taxes to the CBC for availing the service.

He said that there is no hard and fast rule for frequency of water tanker service to any household facing water shortage. “Previously, we had been supplying water tanker to an effected household on average after a week but later on when the water problem aggravated we could supply water tanker to any hardship case even earlier than a week,” said the CBC official. He said that the CBC had a fleet of 500 water tankers and it is sufficient to cover the areas of the Clifton cantonment and DHA. On several occasions we continue with our water tanker service till late night to meet water supply needs of the DHA residents.

Aziz Suharwardy, member of the CBC representing the cantonment residents, said that on Saturday, just one day after the KWSB authorities had pledged 8.5 MGD water supply, it actually supplied 6.5 MGD for the CBC. He said the Clifton cantonment had an impressive record of payment of its water bills to the water board so if there is no financial dispute between the two agencies, the KWSB officials could only cite prolonged power outages as the reason for the curtailed water supply for the CBC. He said the CBC water needs with its 28,000 residential and 14,000 flat units stood at around 11 MGD according to the criteria of the United Nations. Once the KWSB fulfills its obligation of supplying 8.5 MGD water and the desalination plant also resumed its functioning by July, the CBC would be able to fulfill water supply needs for its residents.

“Without the desalination plant working and the CBC not getting due water supply from the KWSB we could not hold the cantonment authorities responsible for any water shortage in the Defence and Clifton areas,” he said. Association of Defence Residents (ADR) General Secretary Asad Kizilbash said that the water supply crisis in the area had become more adverse since the KWSB had not been fulfilling its commitment to supply nine MGD water and also three MGD water supply is not available from Defence Desalination Plant.

“In the previous week the water supply from the KWSB for the CBC residents dropped to as low as six MGD further agg