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Sunday May 19, 2024

Wasa fails to provide water as tanker mafia rules the roost

By Khalid Iqbal
September 18, 2023

Rawalpindi:The Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) has come under fire for its failure to ensure water supply to over 80 per cent of residents of the city in which Adiala Road, Chakra, Girja Road, Shah Faisal Colony and Shah Khalid Colony, Morgah, Kota Kalaan, Dhoke Munshi Fazal Town, and several others were the most affected areas where tanker mafia with full backing of some corrupt government officers have been ruling the roost for years, thanks to corrupt mafia of Wasa which was fully backing the illegal water bowzers and hydrants business all around.

The corrupt mafia was selling water rather than providing water and demanding a ‘bribe’ to continue supplying water otherwise not, the residents of affected areas told ‘The News’ here on Sunday. Thousands of consumers were paying Wasa bills without water for years particularly here at Adiala Road areas. The consumers were paying bills in the hope that they should be given enough supply of water and secondly, they did not want to pay a ‘bribe’ for reconnection.

The district government, Rawalpindi has failed to stem the rise of private tankers mafia as well as commercial tube wells extracting groundwater with impunity resulting in dozens of illegal hydrants and tankers being run in the city which needed to be regularised by local administration. Wasa has failed to set a fixed schedule to supply water in all areas. Why, Wasa has failed to set a fixed schedule for supplying water? The corrupt officials of Wasa were demanding money from every area to open a supply of water those giving money could enjoy a supply of water others were not.

Commissioner Rawalpin­di Division Liaquat Ali Chattha who was already angry about the poor performance and corrupt mafia of Wasa told ‘The News’ that he was closely monitoring corrupt officers in the department. “I have directed Wasa to provide maximum relief to the public otherwise strict action will be taken,” the commissioner said. He said that water is the basic need of people, and how Wasa could stop the supply. We should discourage illegal tanker mafia and illegal hydrants to provide pure drinking water at cheaper rates, he assured.

A tanker costs Rs3,000 to Rs3,500, and people who face water shortages in their respective areas have no option but to depend on these tankers to fulfill their water needs. However, the provision of water to the residents is the sole responsibility of Wasa in Rawalpindi, and the authority has failed to meet this duty due to some corrupt officers. Presently, the Capital Development Authority’s (CDA) main sources of water are Simly Dam and its tube wells, and Wasa depends on the water it gets from Rawal Dam and its tube wells.

However, the rapid rise of these hydrants has nearly dried up groundwater sources. “Due to illegal hydrants, the whole area has dried up. It is unfair that a person is extracting the share of water meant for the whole area and selling it,” said consumers of affected localities.

In light of a Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi order issued last year, the Rawalpindi district administration formed a committee to collect data about illegal hydrants and to ensure the supply of clean water to citizens at a reasonable price. However, the committee has not been notified.

The sources said that the district administration has completed the survey of the illegal hydrants under its administrative control and found more than 89 hydrants in the district. According to Wasa spokesman Umer Farooq said that Wasa completed the survey of the area and found 59 illegal water hydrations in the city areas which it would regularize. He said the district administration formed a committee to fix the rates of the water tanker charges. The official said the agency would ensure the quality of clean drinking water to the citizens through these hydrants.

The residents of Adiala Road which was the most neglected area where the people were only depended on the ‘Tanker Mafia’ have filed several complaints against corrupt officers named Sub-Engineer having an Additional Charge of Assistant Director (Water Supply) Ahmed Hussain and Deputy Director (Water Supply) having an Additional Charge of Director (Sewerage) Sadoon Basra. The corrupt officers have failed to set a fixed schedule for the supply of water in the areas of Dhama Syedan, Munawar Colony, Kalyal, Jarai, Defense Road, Hill View Lane, and several others. The officers through their ‘front men’ were demanding a ‘bribe’ to start supplying water otherwise not, consumers filed several complaints.

Some key post officials from the department said that consumers of several neglected areas have also filed applications against Wasa’s corrupt mafia here in the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) and NAB as well. Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) and NAB have started an investigation against Wasa’s corrupt mafia, the sources said. Talking to ‘The News’ consumers of neglected areas strongly have protested against Wasa and appealed to Punjab Chief Minister Mohsan Naqvi to provide the public with drinking water. Consumers were regularly paying water bills without water for years but nobody was present here to take notice, resulting in they were helpless to buy expensive water from tanker mafia, people bemoaned.