By Nazar Abbas
With the cost of Rs. 30 million, Choriyan Water Supply Scheme is still in limbo even after 10 years.
During my recent visit to the site of the project, I noticed that the wells and quarters constructed for this scheme have turned into ghost house due to lack of attention and maintenance.
On the other hand, an extension of water supply projects for Yazman, Bahawalpur and Bahawalnagar are also incomplete since the extension was granted 4 years ago. Bajnot and Kharri areas of Cholistan desert are also facing a shortage of water.
Water Crisis Forcing Cholistanis to Migrate:
Following the intense heat and dry spell in the Cholistan, the water crisis has worsened in the desert area forcing local people to migrate to the cities.
A local resident of Cholistan, Bilal Laar, while talking to PakVoices said, “We have no choice but to drink saline water from the wells.”
“Most of our kids fall ill every year but no government representative has been taking notice of this issue.”
Another resident of Cholistan, Jam Shabbir also showed concern over water quality and crisis telling, “my half family has moved to the city and the other half is staying in Cholistan.”
He added, “We fetch water from city area every other day on a motorbike.”
Timeline of the Project:
Water supply scheme for Cholistani areas of Yazman, Bahawalpur and Bahawalnagar was initiated in the tenure of ex-president Rtd) General Pervez Musharraf with the estimated budget of Rs. 50 million.
According to Cholistan Development Authority, the project included 4 water supply schemes including one scheme from Mir Garh to Chori (Fortabad), 2nd from Khanri to Tufana 3rd from Chak-108 to Kharri and 4th from Chak-111 to Nawan Kot area. The supply line covered 256 km area but it was not enough to supply water to the whole of Cholistan.
In 2014, Chief Minister Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif announced the extension of this project in a ceremony in Bajnot with the record budget of over Rs. two billion and Rs. 37 million but this project has not been completed even after four years.
Even today, people of Bajnot are living life without a water supply.
In 2007, Choriyan water supply project was announced with a budget of Rs. 30 million. This project has not been made functional contrary to the claims of the government since its initiation.
On the issue, when PakVoices talked to Commissioner Vice Chairman Cholistan Development Authority, he claimed that these projects would be completed soon. He said, “The authority has received the funds and Cholistan will be getting water from these schemes soon.”
The quarters built for the water supply schemes present the look of a ghost house and reportedly the windows have been stolen. Wells are also dry. Notwithstanding, the claims of Cholistan Development Authority, the pending work with no progress on the ground clearly shows the lack of interest by the government in making these projects functional.
Nazar Abbas is working with PakVoices as a citizen journalist from Rahim Yar Khan.
Translated by Muhammad Arsalan
Edited by Hasan Khan