Unavailability of clean drinking water has forced almost 87% of Rahim Yar Khan’s population to rely on unhygienic water, says a local government official.
Municipal Committee (MC) and Health Department supply water to various areas through water tanks. There are water turbines at Amingarh and west bank of Sadiqabad Canal. Four filtration plants donated by a philanthropist and were established by Tehsil Municipal Administration (TMA) in Garden area, Markazi Eidgah, Sheikh Zayed Medical College Hospital (SZMCH) and on Circular Road.
Now only Circular Road and SZMCH plants are functional. The main plant in Garden area, which facilitated most of the city, had been out of order since 2009. An MC Water Supply officer said the plant had been established in 2008 through Clean Drinking Water for All, a project of Federal Environment Ministry under Khushaal Pakistan Program.
Environment Protection Agency (EPA), which was tasked to install filtration plants across the country, had signed a contract with Lahore based firm Rain Drop for the plant here. This EPA was responsible for operating and maintaining the plant for three years. But in August 2008, it transferred project funds to Punjab Local Government Department on ‘operate and maintain’ basis. Then it signed a fresh agreement with Rain Drop for a year.
TMA provided one marla on Nowshera Minor in Garden Water Supply Scheme along with water and electricity connections. The plant became functional in September 2008 and a private company successfully ran it, doing monthly filtration, chlorination and sterilization. Monthly expenditure then on the entire process was Rs15,000.
Unfortunately, in August 2009, a part of the plant was not changed and water specimen tested was found unsuitable for drinking. Thereafter, the plant became non-functional. In December that year, TMA requested local government Director General (DG) to provide guidelines about its future.
In 2010, TMA sent three reminders and their copies to DG and local government secretary and also district coordination officer, but to no avail. Municipal Committee Chief Officer Mian Mazhar Rasheed said the filtration plant had been established by a non-governmental organisation (NGO) and municipal committee had nothing to do with it.
When reminded that the plant was installed on MC land and its electricity connection was also provided by MC, he admitted, but said that NGOs always undertook public facilitation activities.
Municipal Officer (Infrastructure) M Ansar endorsed all details about the plant named above and said it had not been handed over to TMA from NGO. The plant’s membrane was out of order due to which it was not operational. He further said that main body and filter were leaking, which were the main hurdles to its operation. After allocation of funds, this filtration plant would be operational in two months, he claimed.