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ISLAMABAD: More than 80pc Pakistanis consume contaminated and unsafe water, Minister for Science and Technology Rana Tanveer informed the Senate on Tuesday.Responding a question from PPP Senator Sherry Rehman, the minister said the Pakistan Council for Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) had conducted various water quality monitoring projects in the country.

He said 69pc to 82pc water samples collected from 2,807 villages in 24 districts across the country were found contaminated or unsafe for drinking.

The PCRWR, which is a research and development organisation of the Ministry of Science and Technology, reported that major contamination was due to bacteria (coliforms), toxic metals (mainly arsenic), turbidity, total dissolved solids (TDS) and nitrate and fluoride pollution, said the minister.


Minister says 69pc to 82pc of samples collected from 2,807 villages in 24 districts were unsafe for drinking


The upper house was informed that besides setting up 24 state-of-the-art water testing laboratories around the country, several other initiatives had also been undertaken. These included the development of microbiological testing kits, low-cost arsenic detection testing kits and production of chlorination and disinfection tablets.

However, bacteriological, arsenic and turbidity are the leading causes of contamination in the drinking water.

He said bacteriological contamination, detected in drinking water in most parts of the country, was as high as 69pc, arsenic 24pc in some parts of the country and turbidity 14pc.

While microbiological contamination remains one of the leading causes of cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis, typhoid etc., arsenic can cause various types of diabetes, skin, kidney, heart, black foot diseases, hypertension, birth defects and multiple types of cancer, according to the PCRWR.

A senior official in the PCRWR told Dawn that the function of its laboratories were in jeopardy due to the lack of funds.

Set up at a cost of Rs1.2 billion, the labs were to identify contamination in drinking water and ensure the availability of potable water to the citizens.

Initiated in 2007, the “Provision of safe drinking water” project has seen more setbacks.

“Its staff members have remained without salaries for months. The promises to regularise the services of contractual employees have not been fulfilled. Most of the technically qualified staff, including PhDs, have left for better paying opportunities,” said the official requesting anonymity.He said the chairman of the PCRWR, Dr Mohammad Ashraf, had been struggling to keep the project operational, taking up the case of the 200 staff members and meeting its expenses by diverting funds from other departments.

Published in Dawn September 7th, 2016


Comments (58) Closed



R Azhar Sep 07, 2016 08:03am

That is perfectly fine! We have got the metro bus and the orange train now!

Najeeb Sep 07, 2016 08:09am

Can we dare to say that still we spend 11 billion out of 40 billion on defence.

Munawar Ashraf Sep 07, 2016 08:17am

The solution of unsafe water is to build metro bus and orange train.

Bhai Jan Sep 07, 2016 08:21am

Don't the Senators already know?

Revenge Sep 07, 2016 08:26am

Better to focus on having safe drinking water than acquiring used F-16s.

Bhai Jan Sep 07, 2016 08:24am

Ok now theSenate had been told ....What now? We have hardly seen things change after the Senate had been informed of an existing problem. So what's the use of this body if it does not help the common Pakistani?

Alba Sep 07, 2016 08:29am

Making Pakistan a Third World country that would have better health outcomes with clean drinking water.

John Rambo Sep 07, 2016 08:36am

When the figures show 80% are drinking pure water and 20% drinking contaminated water it can be justified PAKISTAN is developing and growing rapidly... unless same old story...

brar Sep 07, 2016 08:44am

Why worry the CPEC is coming which will bring every thing including clean water.

Kalim Sep 07, 2016 08:45am

Issue can be resolved through provision of network of roads, bridges , metro trains etc.

ART Kp Sep 07, 2016 08:52am

Weren't we promised by PMLN of rivers of milk and honey? Instead we get deadly sewerage water.

Harvard Sep 07, 2016 08:55am

Please give priority to drinking water availability.

miristan Sep 07, 2016 08:55am

Sir Ji, our PM wants to be remember after he is gone by making motorways and metros. But he does not know will sell metro to Uganda once he is gone . We have to pay back loans he has borrowed, Ten Generations of Pakistanis will curse when paying these loans.

Adnan Mazher Khan Sep 07, 2016 09:01am

Well Done our PMs and CMSs. You have made us proud.

prafulla Sep 07, 2016 09:16am

What is the use of wasting so much money on terrorism, you can use same money for cleaning drinking water of common man. I should not show you mirror as all of you are intelligent enough. What is the use of becoming a nuclear power if you can not provide drinking water to 80% of common man in Pakistan.

Rafique Ahmed Khoso Sep 07, 2016 09:27am

People are dying of food & water in the country. Since long political chaos is not going to end in near future. One corrupt govt goes other is getting ready to grab country's asset. Poor born to die of food. Instead to sit in lavish parliament or senate house to decide country's future better to call these meetings in the street of villages of whole Pakistan. Can parliamentarians have a glass of water of running water canal & sit openly in sun to decide the future of this nation. All are engaged to earn, earn, and earn more money. They are less bother about the future of this country & its masses.

naji Sep 07, 2016 09:32am

I am Karachities, I am sure that more than 95% of Pakistani are drinking contaminated water since 1947. At the same time there is not a 1% hope that this figure will lower (from 95% to 94%).

Issak Sep 07, 2016 09:47am

Any country that cannot provide safe drinking water for its citizens cannot have a healthy society..western countries saw this decades ago and created higher standards to remove contaminants in tap water but also treating waste water so that it can be safely recycled ...

jdd Sep 07, 2016 09:52am

Population explosion is the main problem of Pakistan and Muslims

Aan Sep 07, 2016 09:59am

What you will the governments who can't provide the clean water for drinking to 80 % Population. This will put a huge burden on your health system very unfortunate and sad news

Haramullah Sep 07, 2016 10:01am

Clean water is a basic necessity of life. Isn't it a shame that this is not available to the people.

Mehak Gulab Sep 07, 2016 10:00am

Try to solve issues through well thought out plans/discussions. Spent more in quality earning-while learning schemes for youth which will reduce burden on law enforcement, defense, and allow govt to focus on drinking water, sanitation, health infrastructure etc.

Aan Sep 07, 2016 10:01am

@jdd No Sir shear negligence by our government is main reason

Innovative strive. Sep 07, 2016 10:07am

Clean water, education and health are the basic need of the masses. Once these are met priority could also be for others. But here vested interest of corruption and political gain eat up every thing. A deplorable situation prevailing needs immediate correction.

fact Sep 07, 2016 10:20am

thats fine, lets put efforts in keep kashmir issue alive

Dr Mubeen Malik, MBBS, Dip Card ( London ) Sep 07, 2016 10:26am

80% is a huge figure. This is a negligence on the part of the GOP. It should be reviewed with a passion to bring the suffering people above the surface of this remediable menace.

Javed Sep 07, 2016 10:26am

Hydrologists say that to maintain the integrity of the water, a positive pressure needs to be maintained in public water supply at all times. That is not the case in Pakistan.

AKKS Sep 07, 2016 10:42am

CPEC and Kashmir will solve this issue!

Rafique Ahmed Khoso Sep 07, 2016 10:59am

@Bhai Jan they only know what amount short in their accounts and what more amount is needed to get their targets....

Tariq Mahmood Sep 07, 2016 11:24am

80% do not drink contaminated water but natural water. Which even if have some bacteria in it, is good for health. People have used such during centuries, that is why our people more resistance against common diseases and bacteria.

M.Saeed Sep 07, 2016 11:26am

Water is life and a sacred duty of the Government not allow it to pollute life. Unsuspecting citizen blindly drink water from the taps, taking it fully potable. It should be a constitutional duty and responsibility of the Government to maintain it healthy and safe at all outlets.

khanm Sep 07, 2016 11:35am

@Tariq Mahmood .. the water government provides got more bacteria than your stomach..trust me some of them can kill you..

AW Sep 07, 2016 11:59am

Major investment is badly required to rebuild the devastated sewage & drainage systems in all cities and villages through out the country AND the many small dams need to be built for effective water resources management. Drinking water supply is now mixed and contaminated with sewerage causing wide spread illness. Government spending which includes military expenses need to be drastically reduce to make funds available for public projects

MJ Khan Sep 07, 2016 12:05pm

No worries, its just 80% not 100%...

Baaligh Sep 07, 2016 12:10pm

Even bottled water is said to be unsafe and just an eye wash to plunder money....but the bottlers are never reported to have been caught for fleecing the masses....if not also on health grounds.

Raj Sep 07, 2016 01:50pm

Oh God, please save this country.

kanwarch Sep 07, 2016 02:05pm

@Najeeb Nothing wrong with spending money on defence in the current climate. Problem is the wrong priorities of PMLN government. There is no need to spend money on Orange train or motorways if you can't provide clean drinking water to 80% of your population. Similarly money should be spent on human development, education and health. Current leaders are not worthy of leading this poor nation.

kanwarch Sep 07, 2016 02:07pm

@Raj No chance with current corrupt leaders

Harmony-1© Sep 07, 2016 02:08pm

The government should be held accountable for making people drink poisonous water!

uday Sep 07, 2016 02:10pm

This is really unfortunate. if some one suggest the ways to improve the situation, it helps other people to realize and demand for the same to legislators. So persons who know the ground realities should suggest improvements through these comments.

The end is near Sep 07, 2016 02:28pm

Water being sold in bottles in Pakistan is the same contaminated unsafe tap water you drink at home. It's fake water dangerous for your health.

Zahid Bhatti Sep 07, 2016 02:42pm

This is a Much Serious issue than making roads & Metros..cause this leads to Multiple health problems & earlier death in many cases

D.K. PAMNANI Sep 07, 2016 03:10pm

Thanks. Atleast 20% are taking safe water. Thanks PM

Dr.Sadaf Sep 07, 2016 03:27pm

So what, do they care, have they asked any public health consultant to brief them in the current situation, no, so why the briefing.

PakBH Sep 07, 2016 03:50pm

We donot need water, we need roads and Metros

Smell the Coffee Sep 07, 2016 04:01pm

The other 20% drink bottled water presumably!

Khwarezmi Sep 07, 2016 04:02pm

Yes, let the nation fall and the people die of poverty. What is important is to save a strange so-called democratic setup where the very rich is ruling from their family owned parties.

Irfan Mahmood Sep 07, 2016 05:01pm

and tells the Federal Minister for Science and Technology who himself is MA Economics & MA, LLB from Punjab University Lahore.

karachi Wally Sep 07, 2016 05:03pm

Government is worried instead how come 20 percent is getting clean water, this is only meant for top 2% rich segment!

hassan Nisar Sep 07, 2016 05:09pm

The one Pakistani i love and adore Mr Hassan nisar has been saying this for years and he is right. Pakistan 's future children have no future

Tariq Rashid Sep 07, 2016 05:32pm

Simply we deserve it what is the issue...Dawn please don't highlight our issues we are very much content with what we are getting and what not.. we will remain the same nobody can change our thinking..

Vorshal Sep 07, 2016 05:37pm

Till my next election victory in 2018, please drink only the 20% pure water available.

Neighbour Sep 07, 2016 05:54pm

While the political competition brings the best of government in India, it's the opposite in here. I am not saying the situations are best here, but better for sure.

Smart Solution Sep 07, 2016 06:13pm

Contaminated water for poor? But look at the positive side, all politicians and rich people of Pakistan have very clean water, big houses, travels & stay in Pakistan, Dubai and London. Isn't it something to celebrate about rich people and politicians of Pakistan?

Nadeem Sep 07, 2016 06:49pm

That's fine, NS is still confident he will win 2018 election..What a shame..

M.Saeed Sep 07, 2016 07:03pm

It is a great gift of nature that our rural area is blessed with an ocean of sweet and cold fresh water underground. A simple locally made hand-pump can bring unlimited amount of clean and healthy water to the people. Most of the big cities also have ground water and government has installed deep tube-wells that pump water to the overhead reservoirs for water supply to large areas.

Bhai Jan Sep 07, 2016 10:01pm

@Rafique Ahmed Khoso Absolutely Sir.

MK Sep 08, 2016 04:52am

Development needs to be planned carefully so as cause minimal disruption and less pollution to the natural environment, which is the source of our food and water, and fresh air, everything we need to maintain good health. Forget the other things which are just luxuries, quite simply all we really need to live is the basics.