Domestic fights due to water crisis can spill out onto the streets

Since the Karachi Water & Sewerage Board (KWSB) hasn’t given a single mega water project to the city in decades, the residents continue to bear the brunt of the massive crisis that has been growing with every passing day.

Experts believe that the water crisis in Karachi is a ticking time bomb. They fear that if the situation is not controlled, it will explode and there will be riots across the city.

The Urban Resource Centre’s Zahid Farooq said that the water crisis has already been causing domestic fights, pointing out that these fights will turn into full-fledged riots in the future.

In the Pahar Ganj area of North Nazimabad, getting water is a task in itself. The area receives water from the Hub Dam. Farooq shared how during winters they get water for two hours after 10 to 12 hours.

He said that during summers they get water for two hours after 16 hours. “Most of the times, when it is finally time to get water, there is a power breakdown.”

Haroon, who lives at the tail-end of Pahar Ganj, said that when the water finally comes through the KWSB lines, the electricity mostly goes off.

Early in the morning, Haroon and most of the young men of his area go down the hill on their motorbikes or bicycles, and with a few in their rickshaws, to a mosque or some houses in North Nazimabad to fill their water buckets, which last them only a day.

Haroon said that if they run out of water at any point of the day, fights generally break out in homes, leading to full-fledged domestic violence. “Water is a source of everything — even happiness. We have to work so hard to get that happiness.”

Forced to move

Fariha Aslam from Orangi Town’s Qasba Colony has rented a two-room flat in North Karachi only because of the water crisis. The sole breadwinner of her family cannot afford to pay for the water tanker every other day.

“We were spending more than half of our entire family’s income on buying water — at least Rs50,000 a month,” she said, adding that they have a three-floor 120-square-yard house in Orangi Town, but they have no option but to live in a two-room flat in the Federal C Area. “It’s not that there’s no water crisis here, but at least we get water in the line once a week, and for the rest of the days we can afford a water tanker.”

But she is not the only one who has moved out of Orangi Town and into a crammed flat just because of the water crisis. Karim Wajahat used to live in a joint family system, but his entire family has moved out largely because of the water crisis.

“No doubt the Orangi Town house was small, and it was getting difficult for us to live there, but one of the main reasons was the water crisis,” he said. “How many water tankers will you get in a week? There has to be a limit.”

He said they had been paying Rs60,000 a month for water tankers, so the only options they had were to either stop using water or move to a different location.

Only water tankers

In Defence View, 23 kilometres away from Orangi Town, the situation is not much different. Never in her life has 30-year-old Huda Saleem seen water in the KWSB line at her home.

“We regularly need a water tanker every three days,” she said, adding that they end up paying Rs30,000 to Rs35,000 a month for tankers, and that is in addition to the monthly bill they pay the water board.

Muhammad Ashraf, a resident of Ayesha Manzil in District Central, said they have to store water in buckets for their daily use. “We just don’t get any water in the KWSB line,” he said. “We get our small water tank filled by a water tanker on an almost daily basis,” he pointed out, explaining how there is a huge water tank in their residential building that is supposed to supply water to the small water tanks in every flat.

“But since there is no water supply from the KWSB, every flat gets their tanks filled by water tankers according to their needs,” he said, adding that they need to pay around Rs30,000 a month for tankers.

As for those flats that have bigger families, he said they have to pay between Rs40,000 and Rs45,000 a month on top of the monthly bill the KWSB sends them.

Published in The News By Oonib Azam 26 June 2022

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