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ISLAMABAD: The water shortage in the capital city may worsen in the summer as the water level in both Simly and Khanpur dams has not risen and 33 of the tubewells are also dysfunctional.

“We are taking every possible step to meet the water demand of the city but we need several rainspells or the water shortage will worsen in June and July,” said director water supply, Nasir Jamil Butt.

He said the city requires 110 million gallons daily and that the civic agency has been providing 56MGD.

Water level in Simly, Khanpur dams has not risen, 33 of the tubewells are also dysfunctional

According to sources, Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) provided connections to residents of Bhara Kahu and Kot Hatyal from the main Simly Dam line as well.

They said this will also contribute to the water shortage in the urban areas.

“The government is responsible for providing water to all citizens but the MCI should have explored other options such as the installation of new tubewells for supplying water to residents of Bhara Kahu and Kot Hatyal,” an MCI official said.

However, the director supply said the step was taken in order to regulate the water supply as people used to steal water from the main Simly Dam supply line. Other sources, however, said the new connections in these union councils (UC) were approved by the mayor after facing pressure from UC chairmen.

The MCI currently gets 19.5MGD with a 50pc cut from Simly Dam, 9MGD is being supplied from Khanpur Dam and almost 25MGD from 160 functional tubewells.

“Of a total 193 tubewells, 33 are dysfunctional,” an MCI official said. He added that these 33 tubewells have been dysfunctional for several years and that no attempts are being made to repair them.

Asked about this, Mr Butt said that 20 of these are not repairable as their bores have gone dry, that the rest will be repaired and that new tubewells will also be installed.

Chief Metropolitan Officer Syed Najaf Iqbal said that the MCI has decided to take the risk and increase the supply of water during Ramazan even though the water level in both dams has not increased.

He said that Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz recently wrote to Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal for adding the Ghazi Barotha water supply project to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, as a long term solution.

He said around $1 billion will be needed for this for which foreign assistance and loans will be required.

“We have been pleading with the Planning Commission to include this project [in CPEC] as there is no other way to overcome the shortage of water in the capital city,” he added.

Worth Rs77 billion according to its PC-1, the project was planned in order to conduct 655MGD of water by 2050 in three phase.

In the first phase, 100MGD of water will be supplied to the twin cities.

The federal capital and especially its I and G sectors face a shortage of water every summer. It is supplied with 56MGD of water when it needs 110MGD.

The Capital Development Authority (CDA) and MCI have so far yet to come up with viable alternate projects.

The CDA had invested in the Chirah Dam project which was approved in 2009 and is a joint venture with the Punjab government.

As per the PC-1, the dam which was to have the capacity for supplying 15MGD was to be completed by 2013 but so far, the concerned authorities have not even purchased land and the estimated cost of the project has risen from Rs5.3 billion to Rs18 billion.

Water supply line replacement project

Worth Rs500 million, the project to replace old and rusty water supply lines in 46 UCs of the garrison city which was to be completed in 2018 will take a year more to execute due to shortage of funds.

The Punjab government had launched the project in 2016 so there are less chances of water contamination due to leaks in the supply lines.

A senior officer at the Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) told Dawn the project was delayed due to slow funding and that it would have been completed in March otherwise.

He said the provincial government was to release funds in December.

“Rs50 million was released in 2016 and Rs75 million in 2017 while Rs121 was to be released in 2018. The work will not be completed in all the UCs by the end of this fiscal year and the project will take another year,” he said.

The officer added that Wasa had completed half the work on replacing old and rusty water supply lines.

He explained that a total of 140 kilometres of supply pipes had to be replaced of which 70km had been installed.

“The prices of the project will also increase due to the delay and Wasa had to send a revised PC-1 for it in the next fiscal year,” he added.

Published in Dawn, May 14th, 2018