Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led government, on various occasion, promised provision of clean drinking water to every district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).
Each year, the provincial government allocates a budget in its Annual Development Programme (ADP) to make damaged water supply and sanitation schemes functional but opposition lawmakers and locals complain that the issue still persists.
Senior officials at district levels from the Public Health Department said. “Frequent power outages left several home appliances, water scheme machines and tube wells damaged.”
They said that the elected representatives have been told about the shortage of water but the government has yet to take steps to resolve the decades old problem.
Earlier, Mufti Saeed Janan, Member Provincial Assembly (MPA) from JUI-F, has raised the water shortage issue in the provincial assembly.
He told the house that the damage to the water supply schemes has occurred due of frequent power outages and usage of obsolete motors.
Truth Tracker contacted Shah Farman, minister for information and public health engineering, who said that the provincial government is adopting all measures to ensure provision of potable water to all districts of the province.
“We have a gigantic plan in place to provide pure and clean water to main cities and remote areas, which will help control water borne diseases,” he added.
He said that he would personally visit Tank, D. I. Khan, Bannu and Lakky Marwat districts to install solar panels for uninterrupted water supply.
“We have allocated Rs. 10 million for the provision of clean water and we will approve 70 water schemes in areas that need them. It is the start of our plan and we will introduce more schemes on a need-based criteria,” Farman noted.
However, Syed Jaffar Shah, another MPA and a senior leader of Awami National Party (ANP), said that the provision of clean drinking water is a really critical issue.
“People and animals drink water from a common pound in Tank district of KP and we had a heated debate in the assembly regarding this thorny issue in order to tackle it at the earliest opportunity possible,” Shah added. He said that this promise of Imran Khan will most likely meet the same fate as his earlier unfulfilled promises.
“Forget about promising drinking water for now, I’d like to know about a single pledge that the PTI has honoured so far,” he asked. He recalled that the provincial government has promised to provide Peshawar City with clean drinking water through the Mega Peshawar Water Project but that commitment has faded to the background.
“False promises and announcements are futile for public welfare, practical steps need to be taken in order to gain the public’s trust,” he said. He said that thousands of tube wells have been damaged or are dysfunctional but the PTI did not bother to make those water supply schemes operational. “It is unfortunate for the people of the province and PTI itself that the provincial government badly failed to resolve pressing issues that plague the masses,” he rued.
Sahibzada Sanaullah, another MPA and a stalwart of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), said that he did not observe any new water supply schemes being established by the PTI. “I witnessed when Chief Minister Pervez Khattak in his post-budget speech himself admitted that the PTI could not ensure provision of purified drinking water to parts of KP,” he remarked.
During the assembly’s latest session, the opposition and the government benches unequivocally admitted that people and animals are forced to use common ponds for drinking water in remote areas of the province.
“Even in my Dir constituency, women are forced to fetch water from a long distance. Each MPA is given Rs. 10 million for a water scheme but which area are you going to provide a water scheme to with this meagre amount?” he questioned. He suggested that the PTI-led government should announce an inclusive plan to resolve the deteriorating water issue on an emergency basis, or else water borne diseases could spread. “The PTI now claims that they are conducting surveys to install new water projects but I am wondering how it is possible to materialize this pledge at a time when they only have a year left to rule,” he added.
Riaz Khan, an independent analyst and a senior journalist, said that the PTI has totally trampled upon its promise to provide clean drinking water to parts of KP. “The provision of clean drinking water is serious, long-standing issue that affects southern districts such as D. I. Khan, Bannu, parts of Lakki Marwat and Tank,” he said.
“People and animals are forced to drink water from the same pond in various villages of southern districts,” he observed.
According to him, the lack of potable water is not the only issue, the irrigation problem is getting serious as the vast land of KP is lying barren due to the unavailability of irrigation water.
“They have planned to carve out an uplifting canal from River Indus to provide water to the cultivable land of southern districts but nothing regarding the materialization of this scheme has been heard so far,” he said. “Water shortage is a serious problem that has afflicted the southern districts for years and the past governments could not tackle the issue despite the fact that foreign governments and donors have offered funds for provision of drinking water,” Riaz added. He said that the consumption of contaminated water by children, women and elderly people of remote areas has led to the spread of life threatening diseases. “The PTI failed miserably to honour its pledge to provide water to each district of the province,” Khan reiterated.
After evaluating the views and remarks of ruling/opposition lawmakers and independent analysts, Truth Tracker rules that the PTI failed to ensure provision of clean drinking water to districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.