Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Illegal hydrants: Mafia leeching on city’s water supply

Large quantities of potable water are being stolen from the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board’s (KWSB) pipelines from across the city through illegal hydrants.

According to estimates, around 100,000 gallons of water per hour is being stolen. These illegal water hydrants are located particularly in Landhi Town, Korangi Town, Super Highway and Manghopir. The shortage of potable water caused by such larceny has led people to consume unsafe underground water.

Water tanker operators told a local English daily that staffers from the KWSB as well as police officials from the areas concerned were involved in theft of potable water. Karachi Water Tanker Owners Welfare Association’s (KWTOWA) General Secretary Hazoor Ahmed said that the number of illegal water hydrants in the city has increased from 200 to around 1,000 within a span of two years. Ahmed said that there are only four legal hydrants left in city and they are not sufficient to provide water to 3,000 water tankers that have storage capacities ranging from 1,000 to 6,000 gallons.

According to Ahmed the official rates for a 1,000 gallon water tanker is Rs 53 but the operators of illegal water hydrants charge them up to Rs 200. The City District Government Karachi (CDGK) and KWSB have established water hydrants at the town level, which has brought the total number of hydrants to 18 in the city. These water hydrants are legally bound to bar transportation of water out of their respective town’s jurisdiction. However, Ahmed alleges that town officers and staffers are involved with water tanker operators and allow them to take potable water out of town limits for double the fee.

Speaking to this correspondent, KWTOWA President Haji Muhammad Younus Khan said that a new hydrant is being established near Qayyumabad.

“The majority of water tanker operators fill their tankers with underground water from hundreds of wells located in Korangi town,” said Khan.

He said that the majority of these water tankers supply water to residents as well as hotels and restaurants in Korangi Town, Landhi Town, Garden East, Korangi Mill Area, DHA, Karachi Fish Harbour, Manzoor Colony, Akhtar Colony, Mehmoodabad, New Karachi industrial area and other parts of the city where there is an acute shortage of water.

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