Karachi slums face water shortage

Karachi slums face water shortage

KARACHI: City's biggest slum, the Machhar Colony, which is home to around 1 million people, is facing acute water shortage as authorities are not officially supplying water to the colony.

In absence of the water supply, some of the locals have set water shops inside the colony. The water shop comprises on a huge underground tank built inside a small room of there house, in one of the shops Haji Usman is filling the tank through a pipe connected to water tankers parked outside the house in the narrow street.

Large number of the people including men, women and small children, carrying metal pitchers, jerry canes and plastic drums are waiting so that once the reservoir is filled they can buy water from this 'small-sized water-shop'.

Residents of the slums belong to many nationalities including Bangladeshis, Afghans, Burmese and Biharis. Though its population is approximately 1 million, the slum is considered an illegal settlement officially . Hence it is not marked on the map as a residential colony.

Therefore state-run departments are not providing basic facilities including sanitation, electricity, natural gas connection and drinking water to the colony.

Sakina, a mother of four, cleans shrimps for Rs.150 a day but she has to spend half of her total income buying water.

"I purchase a can of water for Rs.60 from a neighborhood shop for cooking and drinking. To bath and clean I buy 20 liters of brackish groundwater for Rs. 30 a canister," she said.

Machhar Colony, literally means Mosquito Colony, is built on land reclaimed from the sea. Where mangroves once grew, people started dumping building debris or any other material they found available to reclaim the land to build small houses. Since, the colony is built right on the sea; the ground water is mixed with sea water and is unfit for consumption .

Last year deadly heat-wave killed more than 1300 people in the Metropolis and the official data reveals that majority of the people who died were slum-dwellers and the experts say that apart from other reasons, water shortage in the city was the major contributor to the rising death tolls.

"We demand government to provide us at least drinking water, for which we are ready to pay," said Saifullah, a resident of the colony.