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Editorial

July 18, 2017

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Dangerous water

Dangerous water

The shocking truth about Karachi’s water supply is even worse than anyone could have expected. Over 90 percent of the city’s water supply is unfit for human consumption. This means that, for all practical purposes, the authorities that govern the city have abandoned the residents of the city to suffer from death and disease. The rather sickening fact that most of the city’s water supply is contaminated with human waste was revealed to the Sindh High Court (SHC) during a hearing on the continued failure of the Sindh government to provide clean drinking water. The situation in the rest of the province of Sindh is not much better, with over 70 percent of the water supply contaminated. The fact that it is the metropolis of Karachi that has the worst water supply is counter-intuitive, since it is supposed to have the most advanced and developed system of water supply. The situation is the water reserves. Human involvement in water supply design and maintenance has actually made it worse. Whether it is an issue of corruption, willful neglect or deceit is what the courts – and the public – must decide. This is a failure of governance that cannot be allowed to go on.

The deplorable situation is the cause for disease outbreaks across the country. It is unlikely that other provincial governments are doing much better to clean up their water supply. The reports are cause for a provincial – if not national – health emergency. There seems to be no alternative to relaying the entire water supply system, something we may only dream of. What is more likely is that the blame will continue to be shifted across departments – with the health department and KWSB likely to be the ones blamed. How can lethal bacteria be allowed to mix with drinking water? How can human waste be allowed to float in the water we use for cooking? It would not be wrong to say that the government seems to have relinquished its duties to the public. The KWSB has dithered in its explanations – making statements that do not make sense such as the water quality being particularly poor in a particular area. Moreover, it must be reminded that basic chlorination is only one part of what needs to be done. The scale of the water problem needs to be investigated in full. More than that, a solution needs to be found. The fact that the Sindh government has continued to operate as per usual without paying attention to these revelations is also alarming. This is a situation that – without relying on hyperbole – makes us sick to the stomach.

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