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Coastal calling: Gwadar holds many promises but no water

By Shehzad Baloch

QUETTA: Gwadar, Balochistan’s winter capital and the city of countless promises, has yet to give its residents a sufficient supply of water.

The port city is supplied two million gallons of water every four days, against a daily requirement of 3.5 million gallons, official data suggests.

“Water comes here after every four days,” says Haji Aslam from the Public Health Engineering department. “We are rationing water supply from the dam so that it lasts at least a month,” he adds cautiously.

The port city has a long history of water crisis.

The Ankara Kaur Dam, built in 1993 and stretching over an area of 17,000 acres, remains the sole source of water supply to inhabitants. The crisis worsened in 2006 as population increased.

Gwadar town and Jawani, constituting 50 per cent of the total population of Gwadar district, rely on the Ankara Kaur Dam for all their water needs. Residents of the other three coastal towns of Pasni, Ormara and Sunt Sar are dependant upon seasonal rivers for meeting their demand.

The citizens, meanwhile, decry the utter failure of authorities to come up with a viable solution to the problem.

“There are always tall claims about developing Gwadar city, but in truth we are deprived of basic necessities,” says a resident Hafeez Dashti. “The government is doing nothing except making false claims. Gwadar has been suffering from an acute water shortage for the past decade, but no concrete steps have been taken to overcome this problem.”

Failing infrastructure

The water level in the dam is decreasing because of silt accumulation, another official said. “The amount of accumulated silt betrays the fact that the dam is past more than 50 per cent of its useful life,” he said.

The previous government planned to install a water desalination plant in Pasni and Jiwani. Around Rs2 billion were also earmarked for infrastructural investments. However, according to citizens, the funds were embezzled later on.

Govt remains optimistic

The incumbent provincial government, however, remains optimistic that they can overcome the crisis.

“We have taken up this issue with the chief minister who visited Gwadar recently. He not only approved several water projects but also directed authorities concerned to expedite their efforts,” says Hamal Kalmati, provincial minister for fisheries, elected to the provincial assembly from Gwadar.

According to Kalmati, the Balochistan government has approved Rs4 billion for Shadi Kaur Dam and another Rs2 billion for Sawad Dam, both of which are currently under construction.

Besides this, the Balochistan Development Authority (BDA) has also installed a desalination plant in Gwadar at a cost of Rs1 billion. “This will be functional soon and will provide two million gallons per day to inhabitants,” Kalmati adds.

To avert the crisis in the short term, a plan to connect Gwadar with the Mirani Dam in Kech district is also doing the rounds. However, according to Kalmati, the political administration in Kech is against the move.

Judging from the government’s position, it would seem that no stones are being left unturned to overcome the problem.

Kalmati recently arranged a special prayer for rains in Gwadar too. When Gwadar’s citizens are asked, they seem to have more faith in the heavens opening up the gates because as of now, a well thought out public policy plan to address water shortage seems far off.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 20th, 2012.

From DailyTimes, June 26, 2012:

Gwadar risks becoming ghost town due to water shortage

* Balochistan minister says two dams under construction to overcome crisis

By Mohammad Zafar

QUETTA: Gwadar, Balohistan’s future economical and port city, is facing the problem of drinking water and the Ankara Kaur Dam, which was build in 1993, is empty now thanks to the wrong and defective designing and architecture by the NESPAK.

Balochistan National Party (BNP-Awami) leader Kahuda Babar told Daily Times that leaders from the federal government had always made tall claims that Gwadar was on its way to development but they cannot see that the local people of Gwadar were facing acute shortage of drinking water. “The Ankara Kaur Dam is empty now there is no more water available for drinking. If the positive steps are not taken then there will be the loss of a large number of human lives,” he said, adding that the former district government had installed tube wells to overcome the shortage, but demand of the port city was more than its capacity.

He demanded the federal government take immediate steps to bring water from Mirani Dam. If these steps are not taken then Gwadar city will be a ghost town in the near future and people would be forced to leave the city, he added.

The Ankara Kaur Dam, built in 1993 and stretching over an area of 17,000 acres, remains the sole source of water supply to the local inhabitants. The crisis worsened in 2006 as population increased following construction of the deep water port.

Gwadar Town and Jiwani constitute 50 percent of the total population of Gwadar district and rely on the Ankara Kaur Dam reservoir for all their water needs. Residents of the other three coastal towns of Pasni, Ormara and Sunt Sar are dependent on seasonal rivers for meeting their demands.

The citizens decried the utter failure of authorities to come up with a viable solution to the problem.

“They are always making tall claims about developing Gwadar city, but in reality we are deprived of basic necessities,” says a local journalist, Dilshad Diyani. “The government is doing nothing except making false claims. Gwadar has been suffering from an acute water shortage for the past decade, but no concrete steps have been taken to overcome this problem.”

The incumbent provincial government, however, remains optimistic that they can overcome the crisis.

“We have taken up this issue with the chief minister who visited Gwadar recently. He not only approved several water projects but also directed authorities concerned to expedite their efforts,” says Hamal Kalmati, provincial minister for fisheries, who was elected from Gwadar.

According to Kalmati, the Balochistan government has approved Rs 4 billion for Shadi Kaur Dam and another Rs 2 billion for Sawar Dam, both of which are currently under construction.

To avert the crisis in the short term, a plan to connect Gwadar with the Mirani Dam in Kech district is being chalked out. However, according to Kalmati, the political administration in Kech is against the move. The crisis of water for Gwadar was expected when wrong planning and designing of the Ankara Kaur Dam was prepared by the NESPAK. The storage area of the dam had silted up in less than 25 years while it was designed for half a century.

The government should start desilting and also carry out work on the pattern of Mangla Dam, local engineers and independent economists suggested.

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