TAXILA: Water filtration plants in Hassanabdal about two years ago could not be made functional yet.
The plants inaugurated by the then special assistant to the prime minister on climate change Malik Amin Aslam in August 2020 with great fanfare proved an eyewash for the residents of the areas as they are yet to get a single drop of water from these plants due to bureaucratic red tape.
The four filtration plants, one at Sakhinagar and the others at a housing colony were installed with an allocation of Rs2 million each and executed through the provincial public health engineering department
Sources said in one of the two plants the contractor had made a 180 feet deep bore but could not reach water. At the time of its inauguration, the contractor had filled the tank of the plant with water through a tanker.
The locals said they had forwarded several requests to the district administration for the fixing of the plant problem but to no avail. A resident of the area, Shahid Khan, said due to absence of clean drinking water, children and women have been suffering from stomach, liver, kidney and other diseases.
Ghulam Zakaria, another resident, said that the filtration plants were in shambles and all the machinery was rusting due to no official care. These have now become a shelter house for dogs, cats and other animals.
Munaza Peerzada, chairperson of a local NGO, said public interest projects had never been a priority of the authorities and officials of the district administration particularly neglected their responsibility of providing clean drinking water to the people.
When contacted, Dr Khurram, the coordinator for Mr Amin Aslam, said at the time of execution of the project it was decided that these plants would be operated by mohalla committees. He said despite passage of two years, these committees failed to operate and run the plants. He said now the operation of these plants has been handed over to the municipal committee and the company which executed the project was imparting training to the nominees for running them.
“A tug of war between the municipal committee and Public Health Department is causing loss worth millions of rupees to the national kitty. Besides, residents of the area are also deprived of clean drinking water,” said Zulfiqar Hayat Khan, president PPP Hassanabdal chapter.
The incharge of the engineering branch of the municipal committee (MC) Zulfiqar Butt said the committee had declined to take charge of the filtration plants due to substandard civil work and faulty machinery installed in them.
When asked subdivisional officer Public Health Department Mohammad Arshad Naz refuted the allegation of the MC official, clarifying that the civil and technical work was carried out as per the work order. He said a five-member committee formed by MC authorities rejected the civil work and refused to take charge. Subsequently, the plants are in the shambles and electricity was also disconnected by Iesco due to nonpayment of bills.
He said that now the Saaf Pani project of the Punjab government has given an indication to take charge of these filtration plants and a team inspected these plants a few days ago and prepared a report. Hopefully, during next few months these plants would be made functional.
Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2022