Tharparkar is one of the most underdeveloped regions of Pakistan with a lot of complex problems. However, the problem of availability of water in Tharparkar remains the biggest unresolved issues that the residents have to deal with. It is estimated that around 60% of the people out of an estimated population of 1.6 millions are deprived of clean drinking water. The region is largely dependent on rainfall to cover the lack of availability of water. Therefore, drought is developed due to the lack of rains and which increases death toll of both humans and animals in the region every year.
Underground water is not deemed fit for consumption in many areas of Tharparkar. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the groundwater is not fit for consumption due to the excessive minerals present in it. Therefore 80% of the groundwater is not safe for drinking. Unfortunately, Tharparkar only receives rainfall during the monsoon season in the months of July and September. For the rest of the year, the residents of Tharparkar have to travel a long distance in search of drinking water. Men and women usually dig wells in search of underground water for which they use their cattle such as camels and donkeys as well.
Women of Tharparkar face a lot of hardships in getting the water. A lot of time is required such as three to four hours each day to travel and get water. They have to carry the water pots on their head and travel to their places which causes a lot of health issues as well. The lack of nourishment increases these health issues due to which undernourished children are born in the region.
The underground water has high content of fluoride present in it which is dangerous for consumption. Due to consumption of underground water, more than 100 residents of the village Mewakheraj in Tharparkar suffered from physical disabilities. Ali Akbar Rahimoon, an activist and director of an nongovernmental organization AWARE added that the presence of fluoride in groundwater is dangerous and can therefore cause a lot of health issues. He further added that the many other villages might also be suffering from the same issue as residents of Mewakheraj. He said that the government must take strict measures to resolve the water issue of Tharparkar immediately.
The ex-chief minister of Sindh Arbab Ghulam Rahim said that the issue of water has remained in Tharparkar since a very long time. He said that in the past 12 years, there has been no efforts made to resolve it. The closure of Reverse Osmosis (RO) plants has made the issue even more complicated for the residents of the region. Arbab Ghulam Rahim had previously approved the water scheme through which every village will receive the canal water in the pipelines however no work was done for this initiative by the following governments.
Recently, there has been a lot of voices raised for the availability of canal system in Tharparkar. Activists and local residents have been very vocal on social media to bring the issue in the mainstream media. Prominent activists have raised concerns for the lack of coverage on print and electronic media for this important issue. They have urged the government to divert their attention to resolve this issue.
Residents of Sindh have been advocating for the provision of canal water for the residents of Tharparkar which is their basic right as well. The provision of water will not only resolve a long standing issue but will also ease many other health problems of the region.