KOHAT: The oil- and gas-rich but remote Shakardarra town of Kohat is yet to get drinking water despite orders and commitments by a prime minister, chief ministers, members of parliament, OGDCL and provincial ministers in this regard from time to time.
Sources said that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa law minister Imtiaz Shahid Qureshi had received Rs720 million as royalty from the oil and gas resources for the town during past two years, but he had not started any major project and was befooling the local people by making false promises.
The minister visited the area last month and announced that he would himself supervise the water provision project, but so far nothing was visible on the ground. The sources said that Mr Qureshi had been spending the royalty funds on petty projects of pavement of streets, hand pumps and repair of roads.
However, elders of the area said that the water project could not be compromised under any circumstances. In 2009, former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had asked the petroleum ministry that OGDCL should immediately provide water facility in Shakardarra town.
Feel cheated as those in power never fulfilled promises
The area also lacked other facilities like schools, colleges, hospital and roads, but successive governments failed to honour their promises.
Former MNAs Khursheed Begum and Pir Dilwar Shah, MNA Shehryar Afridi, Senator Nabi Bangash, who is the chairman of a sub-committee on oil and gas, and former nazims had only given false hopes to the people.
Mr Gilani had issued directives after a meeting with a delegation from Kohat in Islamabad. He had asked the concerned ministry to take up the water supply issue with OGDCL and make sure that the project was completed as early as possible. Former CM Ameer Haider Hoti had also asked the OGDCL and SNGPL to spend welfare funds on water supply and other such schemes in Shakardarra, but no work was carried out.
The local people had made the ‘water for oil’ agreement with OGDCL, but the area is still without water.
A local social worker, Mohammad Shafique, said that the exploration companies, including OGDCL and MOL, were earning billions of rupees from Shakardarra annually, but their work was restricted only to providing water through tankers for which OGDCL had set aside Rs1.2 million a month for the last 12 years.
The water was brought from Chashma and other areas from ponds and provided to the people only in urban area of the town. But still the women who could not get water due to living in remote areas bring water from far-off places by going on foot.
The sources said that OGDCL had also started a project of bringing water from the Indus River to the town, which was abandoned because of low voltage as it required a local grid station. Mr Shafique said that the people had decided to be careful in future and use their vote wisely to block the way of selfish and corrupt politicians.
Published in Dawn, June 10th, 2015