LAHORE: Candidates vying in the forthcoming local government elections across the political spectrum have vowed to revamp water supply and sewerage facilities and install new filtration plants in their electoral campaigns but the Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) agency said on Thursday that paucity of resources would likely ensure that their promises remain unfulfilled.
WASA Managing Director Chaudhry Naseer Ahmad said the agency had been executing—Gastro Programme—a major water and sanitation infrastructure upgrade scheme in the city. He said the three-year programme was expected to cost Rs1.7 billion.
He said the Wasa had spent Rs300 million last year and had been allocated Rs500 million this year.
Ahmad said water supply and sewerage lines across all areas where the agency had frequently received complaints from were being revamped under the scheme. He said work in this regard was currently underway in Johar Town, Raiwind Road, Thokar Niaz Beg and Canal Bank. Ahmad said 83 per cent of the agency’s budget was devoted to paying power bills. “The Wasa pays nearly Rs3.6 billion every year on this account. It is left with negligible resources to develop and upgrade water and sanitation infrastructure,” he revealed.
Responding to a question, Ahmad said the city had 325 water filtration plants, of which 200 operated under the Wasa while the rest had been installed by the local government. “Out of those controlled by the agency, 192 are in operational condition while electricity connections are yet to be provided to the rest. On the other hand, 65 of the local governments filtration plants have been operating,” he maintained.
Ahmad said installing more filtration plants would not remedy water-related problems. “The city’s water table has been rapidly dropping. There is a pressing need to adopt alternate resources of water like canals. The agency has already floated a proposal to obtain nearly 500 cusecs of water from the Bambanwalia-Ravi-Bedian (BRB) Canal. This will help rehabilitate the water level and improve quality of groundwater.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 30th, 2015.