According to a study prepared by the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR), 72% of water supply schemes in the country are functional and 84% of those had supplied water that not fit for consumption.
This startling news came to light through the Minister for Science and Technology, Mr. Rana Tanvir Hussain, in the Senate on Tuesday.
Water from about 14% of supply sources in both Sindh and Punjab were found to be heavily contaminated with arsenic which are well above the safe limit of 50 parts per billion. For the unaware, if arsenic is present in drinking water, it can cause cancer in the skin, bladder, lungs and kidney.
These are the water conditions of a country where the commercial banks have posted huge profits exceeding Rs. 475 billion in 3 years. However, the quality of drinking water, being the most basic of all needs, remains neglected.
An upward of Rs. 279 million has been spent on a project named Provision of Safe Drinking Water. This project strives to provide clean drinking water for both the rural and urban population in Pakistan. So far, 6 regional water quality labs have been upgraded and 17 new water quality testing labs have been established at the district level. Funds have also been used on the capacity building of 3,000 professionals associated with water supply agencies.
If the case of unclean drinking water goes on, Pakistan won’t be able to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of providing safe drinking water to its population by the year 2030. This is mostly due to the twin factors of a rapidly increasing population and the rise in pollution. According to experts, Pakistan is long off the track for meeting the targets of water supply by 2030.