Children line up near a pond in Cheshno Ghunda area of Lachi tehsil to get water. — Dawn
Children line up near a pond in Cheshno Ghunda area of Lachi tehsil to get water. — Dawn

KOHAT: Thousands of residents of oil and gas-rich Lachi tehsil have been facing acute water shortage and forced to consume water brought from rain-fed ponds, which is causing them stomach and eye diseases.

The hand pumps provided to the area have failed to give sweet water and the people, mostly children, line up with cans in their hands to fetch water from algae-covered mud ponds in the region.

Some of the houses, ignorant of the repercussions, dip pipes to lift the dirty water through electric machines to overhead tanks in their houses to avoid standing in line from dawn to dusk waiting for their turns.

Except for Shakardarra town from where the oil and gas reserves have been found the residents of all union councils of the tehsil use the pond water.

In Shakardarra, the OGDCL has introduced tanker system which provides water to houses turn by turn.

Shafique, a local resident, said the tanker was a good source of water but that too was provided on a priority basis to the influential people of the area first.

Children, especially girls, leave their homes early in the morning to bring water from ponds situated miles away on their heads. Some of the people hire donkeys to bring water. The most affected areas are Cheshno Ghunda, Sodal and Bangi Khel.

District councillor from Shakardarra, Jasim Saadat, when contacted, told Dawn that that the problem was grave in the Khattak belt comprising union councils Lachi, Darmalak, Mandori, Sodal, Sharkardarra urban-1 and rural-1 and 2.

About the Chasmi water supply scheme for bringing water from River Indus, he said the last government had spent Rs50 million on it for digging three wells along the river and installing a solar plant. He regretted but the project had been victim of massive corruption for the last one decade as it was still incomplete despite expenditure of millions of rupees.

He demanded an inquiry into the embezzlement of Rs200 million which were pocketed by the MPs and contractors.

Councillor Jasim Saadat said the project was a prominent election slogan of the candidates. He said the people had been staging protests but nobody paid attention to their problems.

Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2019