ISLAMABAD: Planning Minister Asad Umar on Monday directed the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to initiate new project to bring 52 million gallons per day (MGD) water from Khanpur Dam to twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

The minister, who is also one of the MNAs from Islamabad, was presiding over a meeting on water supply to Islamabad from Khanpur Dam.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on CDA Affairs MNA Ali Nawaz Awan, MNA Raja Khurram Nawaz, senior officials of Planning Commission, CDA officials, Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) managing director, officials of irrigation departments of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Rawalpindi Cantonment Board and Wapda attended the meeting.

“It was decided that a new project of 52 MGD water would be initiated for which land (for reservoir) is available with CDA that would help in additional supply of water to the twin cities,” said a statement issued by Planning Commission after the meeting.

Minister Asad Umar directed CDA to prepare PC-1 of the new water project fulfilling the need of feasibility study and hiring of a proficient consultant, the statement said.

Speaking to Dawn, SAPM on CDA Affairs Ali Nawaz Awan said the government had been taking steps to bring additional water to system to meet water requirement of the capital city.

“Today’s meeting was third in a row, we have decided to go for new project, which is in fact Phase II of already existing project to bring 52 MGD water to Rawalpindi and Islamabad,” he said.

The SAPM further said it was ironic that Punjab and KP irrigation departments, Water and Sanitation Authority (Wasa), Rawalpindi, CDA and Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) are dealing with the Khanpur supply line and canal.

He said the meeting was of the view that there should be one department to handle all these affairs for smooth working.

Meanwhile, the Planning Commission statement said the planning minister was briefed about the progress made on improving the supply of water from Khanpur Dam to Islamabad. The minister directed the officials concerned to rectify all issues coming in the way of smooth supply of water.

The statement quoting the minister said he had already given instructions for initiation of work on Phase II of the supply of water from Khanpur Dam reservoir. He said ensuring sufficient supply of water to the twin cities was a priority of the government.

Although the existing Water Treatment Plant (WTP) at Sangjani has the capacity of 51 MGD water, it is running under-capacity. At present, Rawalpindi is getting 15 MGD instead of 34.17 MGD water while Islamabad 10 MGD instead of 16.83 MGD.

The minister instructed that desilting work of the canal from Khanpur Dam to Sangjani Water Treatment Plant should be expedited and that one execution authority should be responsible for the operation and management work of the canal. The capital city has three main source of water: Simly Dam followed by Khanpur Dam and tubewells.

However, these sources are now insufficient as Islamabad’s population is over 2.2 million and its needs 220 MGD water.

Officials of water directorate said that there is need for new projects such as Chirrah Dam, Ghazi Barotha project, etc.

However, they said if the PTI government managed to start the project from Khanpur Dam to add 52 MGD water to the system, there would be no water crisis in summers.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2020

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