The Capital Development Authority (CDA) has failed to provide clean drinking water to the capital city as a result of which waterborne diseases are on the rise among the residents. The capital city managers are responsible for supplying clean drinking water to the dwellers of the federal capital. For this purpose, they utilize three major sources: dams, headworks and tube-wells. On the other hand, the water distribution system comprises large networks of pipes and service reservoirs.
An official in the CDA confided to Pakistan Today on the condition of anonymity that the so-called drinking water meant for the residents of Islamabad was contaminated. He said the contamination was caused by three major sources, surface contamination, contaminated distribution system and contamination at the users’ end. He opined the surface contamination was being caused by the disposal of untreated sewage as well as municipal waste in streams, untreated hospital waste, laundry chemicals and industrial waste. “The contamination in the distribution system is due to the intrusion of contaminated water in leaking water supply pipes and leaking gate valves,” he said.
According to the official, contamination at the users’ end is most alarming, which is caused by unclean and unprotected underground and overhead tanks. The water is being stored in these tanks for long periods and gets polluted because of a defective chlorination system, he said. He added there was no standard operating procedure to clean water storage tanks while the tanks needed to be cleaned regularly, but due to a careless attitude, it was not being done.
Tube-wells are the second main source of water supply for the residents of Islamabad. However, most of the tube-wells are located on the edge of polluted streams, and hence, this water also gets polluted as it mixes up with underground sewerage water.
Sajjad Ali Shah, CDA environment deputy director general, told Pakistan Today that since January 2010 they had cleaned two polluted streams in Sector E-7 and repaired all the broken sewerage lines, which were causing pollution in those streams. He added the CDA was trying its best to provide clean drinking water to the residents of Islamabad and that the problem of polluted water would be solved soon.
Arif Hussain, a resident of Sector G-9/4, said, “We were using CDA supply water for drinking purposes as a result of which my two-year-old daughter fell ill badly. I took her to a child specialist who diagnosed that she was suffering from diarrhea.” “We are poor people and cannot afford to drink mineral water, so have no choice but to drink the water being supplied by the CDA.” When contacted, Dr Waseem Khwaja, spokesman for Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), said the use of contaminated water was causing serious ailments in the capital city. He added a large number of people visited the PIMS daily with the complaint of diarrhea and the other diseases caused by the contaminated water. He urged the CDA to ensure clean water was supplied to citizens.