Clean drinking water project goes down the drain | Pakistan Today

Clean drinking water project goes down the drain

ISLAMABAD – Because of ill planning and coordination among the concerned official quarters, Clean Drinking Water for All (CDWA) Programme has failed to achieve its objectives of improving the quality of drinking water by building countrywide water treatment facilities and hence millions of rupees earmarked for the project were lost.
This project, started by the Ministry of Environment, was prepared at cost Rs 7871.74 million and was cleared by ECNEC in April 2006. Later the project was transferred to Ministry of Special Initiatives in October, the same year. On the other hand Ministry of Science and Technology was supposed to provide technical advice on the quantity and quality of the underground water in selected locations.
It was initially decided that the federal government will monitor the project while the provinces will implement it through the district and local governments. But after 18th amendment, Ministry of Special Initiative is being transferred to provinces and hence the Planning Division has stopped releasing more funds for the execution of project.
Under the CDWA a total of 6,584 filtration plants were to be installed across Pakistan and in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Northern Areas. The number of filtration plants which have since been installed is only 1139. In Punjab, 126 filtration plants have been installed out of 3458, Sindh only 353 plants installed against proposed 1129, Balochistan has 405 plants installed against 575, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has 237 out of 1000 prescribed plants, Gilgit Baltistan 23 against 115 and FATA one.
An official in the Ministry of Environment told Pakistan Today that the maintenance of one filtration plant is costly which is why provisional governments do not own this project. “On the other hand the condition of installed plants is worsening with each passing day because of poor maintenance,” he said. This project was conceived after glaring revelation of the reports of Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) which claims that rapid urbanization, increased industrial activity and dependence of the agricultural sector on chemicals and fertilizers have led to severe water pollution.
Deterioration in water quality and contamination of lakes, rivers and groundwater aquifers has, therefore, resulted in increased water borne diseases, which has led to deep negative impacts on human health. However, two years ago Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani in a meeting of Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) took cognizance of delay in implementation of the projects. He ordered an inquiry into the massive financial loss which various officials inflicted on the national exchequer, but this exercise proved futile and no progress has been seen so far.
According to USAID it is estimated that 200,000 children in Pakistan die every year because of diarrheal diseases alone. Unsafe water affects mainly rural and urban poor, who suffer from sickness and water related diseases. A water expert Arshad H Abbasi told Pakistan Today that in Pakistan, Municipal drinking water comes from wells, rivers, streams or underground sources (aquifers) located across the country.
All of these sources of water are linked in a watershed through the water cycle. He said that drinking water source protection was about protecting both the quality and the quantity of these municipal drinking water sources but in Pakistan through in colonial era, legislation was made to protect the watershed of wells and streams in all other countries by protecting drinking water source.
When contacted Director General Ministry of Environment Javed Ali Khan, said, “that project was a temporary action taken by ministry of environment but now our ministry is working on National Drinking Water Policy since 2009 to improve the quality of drinking water.”
Federal Minister for Special Initiatives, Lal Muhammad Khan, when contacted told Pakistan Today, “I can not comment on this project because with the devolution of our ministry all projects are also devolved.” When he was asked that he was still a minister and that too of the relevant ministry, he replied, “Yes I am still the federal minister but without any ministry.”

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