RAWALPINDI: Despite making tall claims to solve the water issue in Rawalpindi city and cantonment areas, the ruling PTI failed to launch any project.

Chief Minister Usman Buzdar announced projects worth Rs120 billion in the city areas but these are related to construction of roads. The PTI local leaders had promised during the 2018 elections that water would be arranged for the city from Ghazi Barotha.

A senior official of Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) told Dawn that the provincial government did not include any project in the annual development programme (ADP) 2019-20 to bring water from dams to the city. On the other hand, a recent survey recommended stopping installation of tubewells in the area.

He said groundwater table had receded from 300 feet to 600 feet in five years. He said more than 440 tubewells in Rawalpindi city were enough and Wasa after a survey had recommended not to install more tubewells.

The official said the water requirement of the city’s 46 union councils would increase from 50 million gallon daily. The 440 tubewells and Rawal and Khanpur dams have no capacity to meet the requirement in future.

The government has released funds for the ruling party’s members of the provincial assembly who recommended installing more tubewells. However, the official said Wasa was in a difficult situation to install more tubewells in the city.

He said in previous years Wasa had installed 17 tubewells in Capital Development Authority (CDA) area near Khanna Bridge and laid a supply line to Morgah and six other union councils along Jhelum Road as there was no groundwater in the area.

He said Wasa had already recommended to the provincial government to bring water from Ghazi Barotha otherwise the water shortage issue would not be resolved. He said the government did not include any water supply project in its annual development programme for 2019-20.

When contacted, Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB) Executive Officer Sibtain Raza said the RCB was working to improve the water supply system but faced problems as groundwater in the area was receding fast.

He said RCB installed tubewells on Peshawar Road but in some areas the tubewells had sunk due to unavailability of groundwater. He said the RCB was working on Khanpur Dam water supply project and would complete it soon.

However, he said there was also a need to enhance the share of water for the Rawalpindi city and cantonment as well as CDA from Khanpur Dam from 25 MGD to 52 MGD.

“This year, water is enough in Khanpur Dam due to plenty of rains and snowfall in the catchment areas. However, the share of the cantonment areas remains nine MGD which should be increased,” he said.

When contacted, Rawalpindi Development Authority Chairman Arif Abbasi admitted that PTI local leaders had promised to solve the water issue soon after the elections.

He said: “We are making plans but it would take at least three to four more years.”

Road projects are not necessary as people are facing water shortage and in this regard he and other PTI leaders will hold a meeting with the chief minister to include a water project in the annual development programme, he said.

He criticised the PML-N government for not taking the matter seriously in last 10 years.

“PML-N and PML-Q both are responsible for installing more tubewells during the last 19 years in the city. They failed to construct any dam to end the water shortage, he said.

He said the PTI government was trying to streamline things in all the departments so the wrongdoings of the previous governments could be removed.

“We will end the water shortage in Rawalpindi soon but such projects will take time,” he said.

Published in Dawn, April 15th, 2019