Tuesday September 21, 2021

Depleting groundwater level triggers concern in KP

July 21, 2021

PESHAWAR: The residents of a sector in Hayatabad faced acute shortage of water when a tube-well stopped working a few days back, prompting them to run from pillar to post to fetch some water for drinking and other purposes.

The Peshawar Development Authority (PDA), which is responsible for providing basic amenities to the residents of the township, had to make hectic efforts to ensure timely repair of the tube-well. However, it took four long days to get it repaired.

Meanwhile, the PDA struggled to provide potable water to the dwellers of the area. The authority had to press water tanks into service to cater to the needs of the people.

Wastage of water was observed the night the tube-well was repaired and the supply restored.

The next morning water was seen streaming out of almost every second house, flooding the streets. One could feel sorry over such merciless wastage of water.

Under the law, a person should be fined Rs500 for wasting water and flooding the streets. But the question is who would implement the law?

The provision of timely and sufficient water to the people is no doubt the duty of the respective departments, but the citizens too have to bear the responsibility for conserving water.

The government departments also need to take steps to prevent wastage of water and make the people follow the law.

Water conservation is key to saving lives. But unfortunately the groundwater level is rapidly lowering in KP and elsewhere in the country. We need to cut down on water wastage.

The ever-increasing number of bore wells and vehicles service stations have contributed to depletion of water tables in the majority of districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including the provincial capital.

The federal Ministry for Water Resources has pointed out that the water table was going down at a fast speed in the province. The situation in the merged districts is even worse. The situation is aggravating even in Swat which is rich in water resources as springs are fast drying up with the water table going down.

The Planning and Development, Agriculture, Local Government and Environment departments and the Agriculture University Peshawar have been tasked with working out a strategy for conserving water in view of the new water policy announced by the federal government.

Though the departments held a few meetings, no progress could be made.

In the provincial capital, the Water and Sanitation Services Peshawar (WSSP), Public Health Department, Peshawar Development Authority and others are supposed to provide water to people.

However, the majority of the people in the district have to make their own arrangements. They bore wells in their house and use pumps to get water.

The WSSP alone supplies 50.49 million gallons of water to its 76,340 consumers at an average of 300 liters per person on a daily basis. The average need of water per person in the country is 120 litres a day and the quantity they consume is almost two times more than their needs.

According to a spokesman for the WSSP, an amount of Rs733 million was spent on account of electricity bills during the last 11 months, which stood at Rs69 million per month and with the increase in water discharge the charges of electricity would increase. It would also affect the water table in the provincial capital, which has already lowered.

The WSSP provides water to 43 out of the 92 union councils of the provincial capital. In some of the remaining union councils, the government departments like the Public Health and PDA provide water to the people, while in the rest the people have to make their own arrangements.

This is an alarming situation that requires urgent measures both on part of the government as well as the common people.

The government must implement the law to help save water, replace rusted pipelines and work out a mechanism to discourage bore wells and ensure minimum use of water in car service stations.

An awareness drive should also be launched to sensitise people about the seriousness of the matter. The people should be made to conserve water.