Coastal people demand safe drinking water, sanitation

KARACHI: Legislators elected from Karachi coastal areas on Tuesday assured the community people of taking up their issues of sanitation and water supply at the major forums of assemblies to resolve the same.

They were speaking at the gathering, organized by Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) at Sachal Hall, Ibrahim Hydri, which attracted a large number of community people to share their grievances. Ibrahim Hydri is the largest locality of fishermen with around 150000 population, which is experiencing worst situation of water shortage for the last several months.

PML-N MPA Haji Shafi Jamot, who originally belongs to Ibrahim Hydri, talking on the occasion, called the issue a manmade problem to punish the people of coastal areas for their sympathy they showed for the ruling PPP government. He claimed to have taken up issues facing the coastal villages, like difficulties of fish landing sites (jetties), reclamation of beach lands and water and sanitation. But, he said, it seemed the people’s cry was being ignored by PPP-led Sindh government at assembly and offices.

He said union council Ibrahim Hydri had tankers to ensure supply of water to the people in case of any disruption in the supply line, but these tankers did not have diesel to operate. He accused the officials of depriving the people of their right to water. These officials are enjoying backing of certain people in the Sindh government, who were taking revenge in this way, Jamot said, adding that it was issue of mismanagement of water resources.

He allegedly said Fishermen Cooperative Society (FCS) in its origin was welfare body formed long ago by the community elders to benefit the local fishermen, but presently, its officials were depriving poor of their basic right to water facility, maintaining jetties and running schools. He said wide area of beaches land had been encroached by land grabbers for commercial purposes.

PFF Chairperson Mohammed Ali Shah termed it the politics of water, saying civic agencies are supplying the water share of coastal localities to the posh areas to fulfil the need of elite class and were depriving the poor of their right. He said water shortage was the common problem facing entire population residing at 350-long Sindh coast, including villages of Karachi at 129-km city coastline.

He further said that access to safe drinking water and sanitation is human rights according to UN declaration on human rights. He said according to WHO standard, each person need 50 litre water per day, whereas people of Ibrahim Hyderi were being provided less than their exact need as per the WHO standards. According to this calculation, population of Ibrahim Hyderi needed 1.5 million gallons daily but only 0.2 million gallons daily was being provided.

PFF is planning to file petition in Sindh High Court against acute water shortage in the entire coastal areas. Shah made it clear that if the issues was not resolved, then they would approach UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to ensure safe drinking water and sanitation.

He said unfortunately, 37000 metric tons of garbage was being dumped in the sea daily and 500 million gallons of untreated water discharged in it, poisoning the source of income of the fishermen. He said Sindh government was supplying water share of Indus Dleta to Karachi through KB feeder, but in return, Karachi provides waste to the sea, even destroying the source of living of entire deltaic region.

PPP MPA Gazala Siyal told the audience that she would take up the case of coastal communities to the Sindh Assembly. She deplored pathetic condition of sanitation in coastal areas and said the people deserved to be treated properly.

Babar Hussain of IUCN also shared his views regarding the grim situation of water and said it was the state’s responsibility to ensure supply of water properly, considering it the basic human right of the people.

PFF community elder Majid Motani, Yousif Kadani Jamil Junejo, Rafiq Channa and others also spoke on the occasion.

It can be mentioned here that the people, mostly fisherwomen, were staging protest demonstration against water shortage frequently, but nobody was ready to pay heed towards their grievances.

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