Safe drinking water, an integral human right, remains inaccessible for the majority of Pakistanis, despite promises made during the tenure of the ruling party. It is a source of great indignity for the federal and provincial government that the majority of water samples collected from surface and underground sources in 13 districts of Sindh, including all six Karachi districts, have been found to be unfit for human consumption, it emerged on Saturday.

The Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) collected 300 water samples from different parts of Sindh, on the order of the SHC judicial commission headed by Justice Mohammad Iqbal Kalhoro, who has been investigating the government’s failure to provide citizens with clean drinking water and sanitation facilities in Sindh.

The three districts, Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur have been supplied with poor quality of water for almost a decade, and despite continuous water quality monitoring since 2005, between 80 and 90 percent of water samples have been deemed unsafe. The provincial government must address the factors contaminating water on an urgent basis. An upgrade of sewage systems is crucial as it mixes with the drinking water supply line. This is coupled with a lack of treatment and filter plants to disinfect the water which creates a serious situation.

According to a World Wide Fund for Nature report titled, “Pakistan’s Waters at Risk”, 20 to 40 percent of the hospital beds in Pakistan are occupied by patients suffering from water-related diseases, such as typhoid, cholera, dysentery and hepatitis, which are responsible for one third of all deaths. Waterborne diseases are responsible for massive economic losses for Pakistan. In the light of these findings on Sindh’s water quality, it will be interesting to see how Justice Kalhoro will respond, and whether the provincial government be held accountable for the water crisis that has unfolded because of their negligence.