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KARACHI: With no less than six filter plants, the city’s largest reverse osmosis (RO) water treatment plant in Old Golimar has not been functioning to capacity for months.

“Seeing the hardships the people of this area had to go through for getting potable water, this plant was promised to the people of Old Golimar during the Pakistan Peoples Party government by the then MNA Abdul Qadir Patel,” said Abdul Waheed Baloch, a resident and ex-councillor of the area. “But now that it is ready, it is not supplying us water,” he said.

“We come and go, pass Gutter Baghicha [Trans-Lyari Park] and look at the RO Plant longingly. God knows when it will serve the people of this area so that we don’t have to walk miles with empty drums and jerry cans to fetch clean water,” he added.

“Summer is on our heads already and pretty soon our water requirements will also go up. If the government cared enough to build us this plant then it should also make a little bit of more effort and make it functional, too,” he said.

Another resident of the area, Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s ex-MPA Fareeda Baloch, said that their children were falling sick due to drinking brackish water. “Stomach ailments are common in our children as the water in our lines is all mixed with sewage and the water from Khajji Ground,” she said.

“The construction of this plant was ordered some six years ago and it has been ready for months now and it is just not functional with all this expensive reverse osmosis equipment locked within its walls,” she said.

Maula Bakhsh, another area resident, said that if the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board had reservations that people in the low-income area wouldn’t pay water bills but “they should know that when we are paying our electricity and gas bills why we wouldn’t pay our water bills.” Some children playing in the park, where the RO plant is located, pointed towards the back of the park where there is also a hydrant for filling water tankers. “We suspect that the Water Board is not connecting our area to the plant because all the water, which should go to it is instead being diverted to the hydrant,” said Maula Bakhsh.

Meanwhile, at the KWSB, there was a bit of confusion regarding the plant. One officer was of the opinion that it was not yet handed over to the KWSB by the people responsible for its construction. Another thought that there was some electrical problem in the way of its working.

Finally, project director Imran Asif said the plant had in fact started work but not to full capacity. “It was supposed to supply one million gallons of water a day [MGD] to the entire area but is instead working only three hours in the morning and two hours in the evening which looking at the needs of the area is absolutely nothing,” he said.

“Therefore, we have fixed a few taps so that the people can at least fill clean potable water from there,” he added.

The project director said K-Electric was the main hindrance coming in the way of water distribution to the entire area. “Obviously, more power or an industrial connection is needed for the filter plants to function and provide water to such a vast area. We have been sending them demand notes for eight to nine months now but even though they have built a substation next to the plant they are yet to connect the high tension wires to it. So the plant is only able to filter little water with the small electricity connection it already has,” he explained.