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Gwadar still Thirsty

Gwadar being an origin of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the population of Gwadar has been confronting shortage of drinking water due to the drying up of Ankara Dam, which is the main source of supplying water for drinking purposes. However, it has reached dead level because its catchment areas had not received rains for many years. The demand for supplying clean and safe drinking water to the residents of Gwadar has once again increased. The dire need of water can be measured that people are compelled to block roads to protest against unpredictable power and water supply.

How will Gwadar become a world-class port city without a fresh water supply? A drought-like situation has hit the Gwadar city for the fourth time in the last six years.  The use of a Pakistan Navy tanker to supply the city with 1,200 tonnes of water over the weekend may have served as a reprieve for the residents of the port city, but it has only served to further highlight the precariousness of the situation. It must be remembered that Gwadar still has a meagre population of about 283,000 residents and has yet to have experienced the population boom expected once CPEC routes are in place. Two weeks had gone by before the special measure was put in place – just before Ramadan kicked off. But this stop-gap measure must not take attention away from the seriousness of Gwadar’s water problems. The nearby Akara dam has dried up. The dam was built in 1995 when the plans for Gwadar’s future were not in the works. Moreover, there were serious planning errors in that as well. The water reservoir for the dam was expected to be over 17,000 acres. Instead, it is now only 6,000 acres. Mirani Dam, which is located a little further away, has been beset by its own problems after it was opened in 2005. Water was being transported from the Mirani Dam reservoir via tankers to Gwadar. This was not enough. For residents of Karachi, this may sound like a dismally similar story since the city too has been beset with a serious water crisis, despite being located much closer to water sources.

Gwadar is a tiny village compared to the megacity of Karachi. But its place in the future development plans for Pakistan should have meant that the requisite planning to provide the city with the most basic resource – water – should have taken place almost a decade before the building of the port kicked off. It is not as if the port city has suddenly emerged out of nowhere. It has been decades since successive governments have been looking for a way to cash in on the rich potential of its location. But it is its location that makes it extremely vulnerable to a water crisis. It is astonishing how little attention seems to have been given to this glaring problem in the future plans for Gwadar as a hub for international trade. In 2012, Gwadar faced a water crisis for almost half a year. This would have been a clear moment for the government to take measures to bring the planning for Gwadar’s water supply in line with plans for the city’s economic future. However, water shortages have continued to hit the city in 2015 and 2016 without fail. The government may not like it or acknowledge it, but it is inevitable that a city without water supply cannot grow into one of the leading trade hubs in the world. This is an issue that needs serious attention.

Ramiz Imtiaz
Linkers Realty
For any query contact +92-335-1369927 | 021-35639700-2

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