FAISALABAD, (APP): Rising population and overburdened civic amenities infrastructure in big cities is becoming a serious challenge for authorities in effectively meeting the quality living standard requirements of the people.
Rampant migration of people from the rural to urban areas has not only created a population and traffic mess in these cities but also affected the environment, sewerage system, health, and road infrastructure as well as food and groundwater quality.
After Karachi and Lahore, Faisalabad is also expanding at a faster pace with the city now inhabiting approximately four million people. Consequently, its available basic amenities are under severe stress due to the mushroom growth of housing societies, mass migration, and increasing vehicular population.
The most serious issue for the city is the provision of clean drinking water as in absence of waste treatment plants, industrial effluent had been contaminating groundwater over the decades. Worn-out water supply pipes, overflowing drains, and the absence of sufficient water filtration plants are the persistent problem for the authorities.
In view of the World Health Organization report that 80 percent of diseases in third world countries are caused by unhygienic water, the challenge becomes enormous for the Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA), the only civic body responsible for the provision of safe drinking water.
“We are trying our best to ensure 100 percent water supply for people living in Faisalabad urban area jurisdiction sprawling over 225 square kilometers,” commented Managing Director WASA Abu Bakar Imran.
“City’s population was recorded at 3.4 million as per 2017 census, out of which two-thirds is connected to the water supply network,” he claimed to mention different sources of water supply used by WASA including 56 million gallons per day capacity water supply line from Chenab river at Chiniot.
Since overall groundwater quality is brackish, WASA has installed tube wells along the banks of canals flowing through or in the surroundings of the city.
Abu Bakar Imran said water pumping from Chiniot to Faisalabad is much more costly as pumps had to push water for long-distance and against the gravitational force. “Therefore, WASA has also sunk 25 tube wells along with Jhang Branch Canal from where around 20 MGD water is being supplied to the city.”
Mentioning three other sources of water supply, he said 76 MGD water was being supplied from old Jhal Khanuwala Water Works, one MGD from the Jhang Branch canal, and 1.5 MGD water from Gulistan Colony Water Works.
Abu Bakar Imran referred to different water supply projects including a mega project to be executed with the help of the Japan International Cooperation Agency. “We hope to reach out to maximum population through this project to be completed with an estimated cost of Rs 7250 million.”
He said out of this amount Rs. 6.14 million would be provided by the Punjab government and Rs. 6636 million by JICA as aid in the grant. “Under this project, a six-kilometer-long new transmission line would be laid down besides replacing 31 km long distribution lines.”
The Managing Director said this project is expected to be completed by February 2024 and benefit approximately 500,000 Faisalabad inhabitants with safe drinking water.
“It would ensure better quality water to people through an improved supply system as WASA was endeavoring to provide 10,000 new connections every year till 100 percent household are covered,” he informed.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the district government said that the Punjab government was also contributing to the provision of clean drinking water to citizens and the district government had installed approximately 150 water filtration plants.
“These plants had been set with the cooperation of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Sailani Welfare Trust has taken the responsibility of their maintenance,” he said.
Amidst the whole of this situation, issues like worn-out pipelines, continued groundwater contamination, mixing sewerage water with fresh water and quality testing mechanism still continue to haunt the authorities.
“Laying infrastructure is fine and giving fresh connections is fine. But, what about obsolete pipelines and those running side by side sewerage lines,” questioned a resident of the New Civil Line area, Chaudhry Muhammad Saleem.
“Then there is also an issue of installing water sucking pumps on the water supply lines. Who will ensure to check illegalities,” he said and mentioned when any freshwater pipeline is damaged near to sewerage line, the wastewater mixes with fresh water and WASA takes days to address such common complaints.
“Moreover, how long one can trust the water quality testing system when the supplier is its master,” he questioned again and said hundreds of thousands of people fall ill by drinking contaminated water.
Commenting on this situation, Medical Specialist Dr. Zahid Yaseen Hashmi said, water-borne diseases were rampant in Faisalabad due to the presence of multiple pollutants in underground water pumped out by people themselves.
He identified that contaminated groundwater and sewer mixed pipe water is one the main reasons of diseases like hepatitis, typhoid, cholera, diarrhea, worm infections, and gastroenteritis.
“Poor and low-income groups least bother for water quality. They have lived with what they are provided by the authorities,” he remarked. “Children are easy prey to this phenomenon and the government must prioritize this issue to ensure a healthy future generation for the country.”
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