RAWALPINDI, June 25: Citizens under the control of the Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB) have been facing acute water shortage since the advent of summer, and board officials blame the incomplete Khanpur Dam Water Supply Project Phase-III for the shortage.
Most areas of the cantonment were to be supplied water under this Rs719.6 million project, which could not be completed due to shortage of funds.
“If there are no supply networks, how can we supply water?” an official at RCB said.
However, when pressed to reveal the real reason, he said the incomplete Khanpur Dam project was the main reason behind the water problem. This had led to water shortage in Naseerabad, Gowalmandi, Dheri Hasanabad, Chaklala Schemes I, II, III, Gharibabab, Tipu Road, Dhoke Chiraghdin, Dhoke Chaudhrian, Harley Street, Dhoke Syedan, Lalazar and adjoining areas.
He said the project had been launched in 2010 and was to be completed by 2012. However, the previous Pakistan People’s Party government had not taken the issue seriously, and the present Pakistan Muslim League-N government was following suit, resulting in the plight of the citizens.
“The project will be delayed by another year and a half if the federal government does not take the matter seriously,” the RCB official said.
“Because the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) allocations and releases have been curtailed, the project is being delayed. To date, 65 per cent of the work has been completed although only 41 per cent of the total allocated funds were released,” he said.
The official explained that during the previous three financial years (2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13), only Rs300 million (41 per cent) had been received by the RCB against the total Rs719.6 million allocated.
“During the current financial year, only the first quarter, amounting to Rs81 million, was released, which the RCB received on December 31, 2012. The second-quarter allocation of Rs81 million is yet to be released,” he said.
The official said the funds for the current fiscal year 2012-13 had also been reduced from Rs405 million to Rs305 million, which adversely affected the ongoing execution of the pivotal PSDP Project.
“As a result, the project will be delayed by another one and half year. This will result in structural decay of the already constructed infrastructure due to non-commissioning since long,” he said.
Residents of the cantonment areas urged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to take up the matter. More than a 100 people gathered in front of the public secretariat of the PML-N’s legislators Malik Abrar (Member National Assembly) and Malik Iftikhar (Member Provincial Assembly) to press the government into solving the water problem.
Iftikhar Ahmed, a resident of Gowalmandi, said the entire area was facing water shortage and people were forced to fetch water from neighbouring areas. He said some people bought water tankers but they charged exorbitant prices.
Raheel Ahmed, a resident of Dhoke Chaudhrian, said the entire colony had a tubewell but the water was not enough to fulfill the demands of the entire colony. “The RCB officials installed water supply lines but even these have dried up,” he said.
Similarly, Mohammad Mushtaq, a resident of Tipu Road, said the area was not receiving water regularly and people had registered a complaint with the RCB. “We are already suffering from 16 hours of loadshedding in this heat, and the shortage of water has made our lives miserable,” he said.
When contacted, MNA Malik Abrar Ahmed said the residents of the cantonment areas were facing water shortage and he had personally contacted the finance ministry for the release of funds for the project. However, he passed the buck to the bureaucracy for using delaying tactics and having no concern for the plight of the people.
“I will bring the matter to the prime minister’s attention and will urge him to solve the issue urgently. Otherwise, residents of the garrison city would continue suffering from water shortage till 2015,” he said.