Islamabad - It’s 3:30am. Dozens of residents have started lining up in the dark outside a water complaints registration centre at sector I-10 Markaz.

As the time goes on, the queue continues to pile up. Every one of them wants to make sure he is the first in the line to register water shortage complaint with a request of supply of water through water tanker. The complaint centre only entertains an average of 70 complaints a day. If you are among the first 70 complainants, you will be supplied water through water tanker. If not, then you are supposed to come again tomorrow to try your luck.

Water, a basic civic necessity, has been fast becoming a rare commodity, especially in I-series sectors, in Islamabad. On Friday last, residents of I-10 sector lodged a total of 280 water related complaints at Capital Development Authority (CDA) water inquiry cell at I-10 Markaz.

“Water complaints have almost doubled during the holy month of Ramazan,” said Safeer Shah, an inquiry clerk at the complaint office. The CDA, he said, would not be able to entertain more than 75 to 80 complaints out of the 280 lodged.

The residents of the sectors were of the view that irregular and inadequate water supply by the CDA had badly affected the life of thousands of families.

Talking to The Nation, Shabir Ahmad, a resident of sector I-10/4 complained that issue of water shortage is not new to them saying the supply is insufficient.

Another resident of sector I-10/1, Farzana Ali said, “We get one water tanker only in a week from civic agency (CDA) in order to cater to our requirements. For rest of the days we depend on private own water tanker supply which costs us Rs 800 per tanker.” Despite several assurances by the Capital Development Authority (CDA), the water crisis in I-series sectors still remains at its previous situation.

Another resident Bilal Tariq said the civic agency is not serious to tackle the water shortage issue. “Throughout the week, the CDA supplies water only for three days and that too one hour supply per day,” he said.

The CDA official said as many as 34 water supply tankers are owned by the civic agency and out of them, 12 tankers are out of order. He assured that Rs 2.5 million have been released for the maintenance of tankers and all tankers would start working as soon as possible.

There are four water tanker inquiry points established in the capital by CDA and they are located at I-9, Government Hostel, G1-0 and 7MGR in order to entertain the complaints about water tankers.

Available record with the capital’s civic agency says the actual water demand is around 211.22 million gallons per day (MGD) in both urban and rural areas of the city. The city is divided into two categories; urban and rural population. However, urban segment of the capital is facing worse crisis of water shortage as they are getting only 74 million gallons per day, while the water demand is about 120 MGD. Similarly, estimated water demand of rural areas is 86.2 MGD, while the average shortfall per day is 31.2 MGD.

There are four main resources of water supply to the federal capital. Simly Dam currently supplies 36 MGD or 48 per cent of the total water supplied. The main beneficiary areas of this water reservoir are E, F and some parts of G sectors, while these areas usually do not face shortage of water throughout the year.

Khanpur Dam supplies 20 MGD. Out of 20 MGD, 12 MGD water share is fixed for Islamabad and 8 MGD to Rawalpindi’s cantonment areas. While, the record says currently the total water supply from the Khanpur Dam is 8 MGD against its actual capacity of 12 MGD, which is also a main reason to the water crisis in the city.

In addition, tube wells ensure supply of 26 MGD or 35 percent of the supply mainly to I-series sectors, while small, private water works operators also contribute to supply 4 MGD or 5 percent of the supply. On the other hand, the climate change has disturbed the pattern of rainfall in the country and the capital city has also been badly affected by it. Due to overdependence on ground water, the level of water has reduced its level to an alarming limit which must be noticed by the mangers of the city.

Talking to The Nation, the CDA spokesperson said the federal government is working on multibillion rupees project of drawing water for twin cities from Indus River System. He said Council of Common Interests (CCI) had recently approved the project. The spokesperson said the authority was also working on a project that involves rehabilitation of decades old underground water supply system that causes wastage of enough water supplied by the CDA.

–The writer is a freelance contributor.

aitullah sra