Nov 08 - 14, 2004

Steps are in the pipeline for installation of meters on the consumption of water by the industrial, commercial and domestic water consumers in Karachi.

According to the plans, water consumption at fixed tax on annual basis will come to an end now and radical step has been taken to streamline an efficient water management system in this largest water consuming city where a considerable amount of precious water goes into drains due to careless and lavish use of the much-sought commodity.

The Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB), City District Government Karachi, (CDGK), Defence Housing Society (DHA) and the cantonment boards are also preparing plans to restructure the water management in Karachi, which is being elevated as a metropolitan city of Pakistan in the real sense and the most modern city in south Asia.

There are about 1.55 million water consumers which include 1.4 registered in the billing network of KWSB, DHA and cantonment areas of Karachi. KWSB, Defence Housing Authority and all six cantonment boards including Manora Island has started installing water meters. So far, 625 UK-imported meters have been installed for the industrial consumers and now they are being billed at the rate of Rs. 72 per 1,000 gallons whereas the rates of Rs. 44 per 1,000 gallons have been fixed for domestic and commercial consumers.

Defence Housing Authority has also amended the construction law which now bounds every owner of all nature of unit to install the water meter imported from China. DHA has even installed water meters to its old bulk consumers within it jurisdiction.

Syed Akhlaq Hussain, Deputy Managing Director, KWSB told PAGE that this is just beginning of a long-term restructuring plan which might take some years but ultimately every consumer would have a water meter at its unit. He said that there are total 3,500 bulk consumers in Karachi having water connection of one-inch diameter or above but only 625 bulk consumers have installed water meter and are paying accordingly on monthly basis.

The next major step is going to be taken for apartments in Karachi in which about 300,000 units of different categories flats are situated. At present ,situation is very complex, as KWSB has provided a single connection to each apartment where from 35 to 1000 flats are consuming water and are billed individually. On disconnection issue, KWSB's DMD said that they can not disconnect the main connection of any apartment until 50% apartment of owners come defaulters.

However, a proposal in this connection is being prepared and major changes in the construction of apartment is being suggested according to which owner of every flat would have separate water connection alongwith water meter and they would than be billed on monthly basis.

He said at present speed of installing the water meter is slow because there is shortage in water supply and water meter goes in reverse when there is no water. One of the major water supply project K-3 is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2005, till that time KWSB and other institutions are restructuring water supply network, said Akhlaq Hussain.

"There are three major reasons of water crises in Karachi, on top of that is water goes waste due to leakages in entire water supply network of the KWSB.

There is another major step regarding streamlining the water management system of Karachi as billing and collection department of the KWSB is going to be privatized. However, this step has been postponed due to many reasons but basic reason has been reported the dilapidated network of the KWSB due to which Karachi is facing an artificial shortage. The second reason is reported to be corruption in the KWSB which has forced the authorities to privatize the billing and collection department. Third major reason is the water tanker mafia, the Managing Director KWSB Brig. Iftikhar Haider told PAGE that water tankers would go from Karachi and a plan has also been chalked out in this connection. Meetings with the rangers in this connection had been held. At the end of December all illegal hydrants would be removed out of Karachi and gradually tanker system would come to an end.

There are about three dozen departments of the federal and provincial government and the autonomous bodies department including, Sindh police, Home Department, CDGK, KBCA, KESC, federal interior ministry, Karachi central jail, health department, KPT, Pakistan steel mills, Karachi shipyard, Pakistan Railways, education Department, many offices of ministry of defence and civil aviation are defaulter and have to pay three billion to the KWSB.

The water meter system has been initiated on slow pas basis as government wants awareness and a sense of responsibility among consumers in connection with usage of water. The City District Government, apart from launching major projects for water supply, also has made compulsory to design two parallel water lines in the construction of residential and commercial units in future keeping additional cushion of tube well water for the use to other than drinking.