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Karachi

December 21, 2017

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‘Water supply system needs up to two decades to be replaced’

Replacing Karachi’s water distribution system can take 15 to 20 years, the water board’s chief estimated while talking to The News at his office on Wednesday.

Karachi Water & Sewerage Board (KWSB) Managing Director Hashim Raza Zaidi’s estimate came on The News’ question as to how the uphill task of repairing and/or replacing water pipelines would be carried out.

A day earlier Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah had claimed that there was no acute water shortage in the city and that the century-old distribution system was to blame. He also ordered drawing up a plan to replace the 1,200-kilometre-long network.

Zaidi said on Wednesday that wherever the need of repairs would arise, the pipelines would be mended as the old pipelines continue to be replaced, adding that replacement of the distribution system was a lengthy process. When such massive projects are undertaken, the rate of escalation is also taken into consideration, as the cost of the scheme can escalate similar to that of the K-IV project, he added.

He said there were some water pipelines in the city that were two decades old, some four and some even six. He added that they were in touch with the World Bank to help with the overhaul of the KWSB, development, reconstruction and repairs of the pipelines.

The KWSB chief said zoning of the city’s water sector and pipelines was essential, because no plan of theirs could be implemented without proper zoning, adding that a plan needed to be drawn up for the purpose, before obtaining the funds that would be in the billions.

He said the replacement project would start with the unearthing of all the pipelines to determine the ground realities, for which heavy machinery would be required. Zaidi said the city was receiving 550mgd of water against the requirement of 1,100mgd, adding that the persistent challenge for the KWSB was equitable water distribution.

He said that besides old water pipelines needing repairs or replacement, the water pumping machines at Dhabeji, Gharo and Pipri also needed to be replaced. Earlier in the day, the KWSB chief had convened a high-level meeting in which he ordered completing water and sewerage projects within the stipulated time in accordance with the Supreme Court’s orders.

He asked all the engineers to submit detailed reports on all the projects that were supplying additional water as well as all the projects that were in need of repairs or replacement of pipelines. Meanwhile, when The News asked Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar if the KWSB’s pipelines needed to be replaced, he said:

“They need replacement on a war footing, because the pipelines are carrying contaminated water as sewerage lines are connected with water pipelines.” On Tuesday the CM had said the water shortage in the city was not as acute as claimed by the KWSB, adding that the bureaucracy of the water board and the local government had been misguiding politicians for the past many years.

He said the inefficient distribution system was the actual problem that the KWSB had been concealing under the guise of water shortage. “The actual problem is the rusted, defective, old and contaminated distribution network.” Local Government Minister Jam Khan told the CM that the city’s water supply network was 1,200km long and its replacement would cost around Rs200 billion.

Murad said that according to the recent census, the population of the city was 16 million, adding that as per the water board’s standard, the water requirement was 50 gallons per capita per day. “The city’s total water requirement comes to 800mgd. Karachi receives 550mgd from the Keenjhar Lake and 100mgd from Hub. By the end of 2018, the K-IV project would start providing 260mgd. An additional 65mgd would be available from another small scheme. So 975mgd would be enough for another three to four years.” He directed the LG minister to prepare a plan to replace the old distribution network. He said that whatever the cost of the project, he would provide the funds.

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