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LANDI KOTAL: Drinking water became a rare commodity after the local administration abruptly suspended free provision of water to people in Landi Kotal owing to ban on collection of Agency Development Fund.

Officials said that they used to spend almost Rs2 million every month on free distribution of water among thousands of needy families in Landi Kotal as the region had been facing acute water shortage of water for the last so many years due to sharp depletion of underground water table.

They said that they would get the said amount from Agency Development Fund, which they stopped collecting on the order of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief secretary few days after the promulgation of Interim Fata Governance Regulation.

The local administration had hired a number of private water tankers that were assigned responsibility of free distribution of drinking water among the poor and needy families of different localities of Landi Kotal in lieu of payment from Agency Development Fund.

Local officials would issue tickets (Perchee) in the name of the recipient and the tanker owner would then supply them water on his turn. Some influential tribal elders and government installations including educational institutions and local hospital were also beneficiaries of free water distribution scheme.

“The facility has now been totally withdrawn with the order about suspension of collecting Agency Development Funds as we have no alternate sources of income to bear the financial burden of free distribution of water among the local residents,” officials told Dawn.

Tuti Shah, an owner of water tankers, said that he too was refused payment of his last month bills amounting to about Rs2.2 million due to curbs on collection of taxes. He said that his drivers were supplying water to local residents on their personal demand and payment.

Banaras Khan, the president of a local welfare organisation, said that local women and children were compelled to fetch water from far-off localities at Sehri and Iftar timings due to suspension of free water distribution.

He said that the owners of water tankers too increased rates of water per barrel and the poor families were the worst affected as they could not afford to pay them.

The residents of Sultankhel demanded of the local grid station staff to reduce loadshedding to enable the tubewells in their area to run for longer times. They said that prolonged power outages affected badly the tubewells capacity to supply adequate water to them.

BAN: The administration in Jamrud and Landi Kotal imposed ban on firing in the air on Eid night and other festive occasions and warned the violators of strict action.

Officials said that a security plan was devised for Eid with additional patrolling on all major roads by Khasadar and Levies personnel. They said that security would also be provided to major mosques in the area during Eid and Friday congregations.

CURFEW: The residents of Bagh-Maidan Markaz and adjoining areas faced difficulties in doing their Eid shopping as local authorities imposed curfew in the region the other day.

They said that sudden announcements were made at the mosques early in the morning, asking them to remain indoors till evening. No reason was given for imposition of the curfew.

The local people said that the restrictions affected their shopping for Eid as they had plans to purchase Eid related commodities from the Bagh-Maidan Markaz.

They said that the curfew also affected arrival of those, who lived outside Tirah and had planned to return home on Thursday.

Local Officials could not be approached for their comments about sudden imposition of curfew.

Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2018