In Balochistan, a three year drought has led to an acute shortage of water. The residents Gwadar , specially, are going through severe crisis, due to a lack of clean drinking water. People are compelled to either buy water at an expensive rate (USD 115 to a40 per tanker) or wait for the government-subsidised water which is transported from 80 kilometres away. This is the second time that Gwadar , and adjacent areas within Balochistan, are facing a water crisis in the past six years. 

Women and children are forced to travel miles in order to collect water in jars and buckets. Domestic chores such as washing clothes also requires one to travel to numerous far away places. The Akara Kaur dam, built in 1990, was the only source of water in the region. Due to the recent drought the dam has almost dried up, and cannot provide for the water demand of the city. 

Every time issues regarding Gwadar are raised, the government casually points towards CPEC saying that it will be a source of development. The project will bring around 46 million worth of investment. But it must be noted that, due to CPEC, the population of Gwadar is increasing. The water crisis will soon become even more severe if no action is taken. In spite of all the promises made in regards to developing the city of Gwadar , no one is sure as to what would happen after the establishment of CPEC. 

Water is a basic necessity, one that is not provided to the people of Gwadar . People continue to suffer, and despite their agitations, no tangible action is in sight. How does the government plan on addressing this crisis? It is also argued that CPEC will not help in developing the Balochistan region, but rather, Punjab. The Metro Bus projects in Punjab, constructed under the CPEC investment, can be taken as a sign. 

If funds are not directed towards Gwadar , then the situation can easily erupt into a humanitarian crisis. The tanker mafia is already exploiting the situation and looting the population. Some poor families cannot even afford three meals a day, how can we expect them to buy water at expensive rates. Although the government is planning to construct two dams which will be completed in 2018, but the crisis needs urgent redress. 

According to news reports, people in Gwadar are stealing water instead of money. Isn’t this shocking? The government should understand that the situation is already very terrible, and could go from bad to worse very soon. The government should take strong action regarding this, and authorities should confirm that CPEC will be profitable for the people of Gwadar

SANA SAMAD,  

Turbat, October 14.