Clean drinking water becomes reality

22 Mar 2006


ISLAMABAD, March 21: Even a couple of years back, clean drinking water was just a dream and a remote reality for the common man. People simply had to depend on tap water, underground water, canal water and, in water scarcity areas, on pond water.

The concept of potable water was only known to those who could afford mineral or bottled water.

People in some other areas were using the boiled water as an overall concept of potable or clean drinking was yet to prevail.

This situation affected a large number of people over the years and patients affected by Hepatitis A, B and C, diarrhoea, gastroentritis, cholera and other water borne diseases continued to soar.

The health budget in terms to treat water borne diseases surged to Rs30 billion annually.

Various government and the United Nations departments, off and on, carried out physical, chemical and bacteriological tests of underground and tap water and found contamination of bacteria, E-coli, minerals, hardness and even arsenic in some areas. All injurious to human health.

Having cognizance of the situation, Ministry of Environment through Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (PEPA) started working on Clean Drinking Water Initiative (CDWI) in August last.

Although scattered water filtration plants were already working in some areas but there was no comprehensive programme prior to the initiative, focussing on district, tehsil and town level.

President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz decided to launch the clean drinking water for all (CDWA) expanding the scope to union council level by allocating around Rs8 billion. CDWA is going to be completed by December 2007.

Clean Drinking Water for All (CDWA), named afresh, is a programme running parallel to Clean Drinking Water Initiative (CDWI) and its PC-1 has been approved by the Prime Minister recently.

Under CDWI, 445 filtration plants will be set up at district, tehsil and town level and under CDWA 6035 plants of capacity varying from 500 gallons to 2000 gallons per hour are going to be installed at union council level by December next year.

Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA), Ministry of Environment is forging ahead for implementation of the Clean Drinking Water Initiative with the hope for its timely completion.

“We have so far received MOUs from 417 districts and tehsils out of total 445. Technical survey at 383 sites has been completed and work order for 185 plants have been issued,” said Irfan Alrai, Programme Manager CDWI.