Sunday December 03, 2023

Tanker mafia rules the roost in Rawalpindi

November 20, 2023
Workers supervise as a water tanker is filled from a hydrant, to supply at residential areas for a charge on the outskirts of Islamabad. — AFP/File
Workers supervise as a water tanker is filled from a hydrant, to supply at residential areas for a charge on the outskirts of Islamabad. — AFP/File

Rawalpindi:The worst shortage of water here in Rawalpindi has given rise to an alarming surge in illegal water trade, with private water tankers and hydrants operating outside the bounds of the law.

Attempts to curb this burgeoning illicit industry have fallen short, allowing private tankers mafia and unauthorised commercial tube wells to thrive but authorities concerned are continuously providing cover to corrupt and non-professional officers in Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) who are destroying the structure of department for over two years.

Former Managing Director (Wasa) Raja Shaukat who retired recently started several water supply schemes in Rawalpindi during his reign. He had taken approval for supplying water to Adiala, the most neglected areas at that time. He was doing a lot to end water crisis in Rawalpindi forever but a powerful man of a political party kicked out him on personal grudge at that time and introduced some officers on deputation in the department. They did not do anything for the betterment of this department for over two years.

Only and only public was facing the wrong decisions of political leaderships and over 80 per cent locals were deprived of supply water. Over 50 per cent tube wells remained faulty round the clock and not a single new water supply scheme launched for Rawalpindi for over two years. Illegal water business, illegal hydrants are increasing day-by-day while poor public was buying water in skyrocketing prices from ‘tanker mafia’. Hundreds of unlicensed hydrants and tankers are currently operational in Rawalpindi. The illegal water trade has become an unfortunate necessity for residents facing acute water scarcity, with a single tanker costing between Rs2500 and Rs3000 in winter and Rs3500 to Rs5000 in summer season.

The uncontrolled growth of illegal hydrants has led to a drastic depletion of groundwater. According to Wasa spokesperson Umer Farooq confirmed that the agency had surveyed the area and identified 59 illegal water hydrants, which would be regularized. The district administration also set up a committee to establish water tanker charges. But neither local administration, Rawalpindi regularized water hydrants nor fixed prices for private tanker mafia.

Not only water supply system but sewerage system was also paralysed in Rawalpindi. All small Nullahs have chocked for over one year and sewerage water mixed with supply water creating different dangerous diseases among public. The current management of Wasa was not addressing public grievances, people of city told ‘The News’ here on Sunday. Wasa employees were deprived of salaries for over two months, private contractors have stopped work of Wasa due to non-payment resultantly city’s carpeted roads were continuously getting damaged.

Town Officer (Infrastructure and Services) Rafaqat Gondal has showed serious concerns on the poor performance of Wasa. He said that Wasa officers dig out all roads even new carpeted roads in city areas. They do not repair the roads after completion of their works. It is a criminal offence, he said.

Talking to ‘The News’ locals of Rawalpindi city have appealed higher authorities to save Wasa otherwise it will create an unrest situation among residents. Bosses could afford expensive water tankers but poor people not so we are appealing to resolve water shortage issue on priority basis, people bemoaned.