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Rainwater makes Shangla villagers sick

Rainwater makes Shangla villagers sick

SHANGLA: The residents of Gumrash area of Chakesar tehsil say that they are vulnerable to water-borne diseases as they use rainwater from a pond for drinking purpose.

“Provision of potable water to every denizen is responsibility of the government, but over 6,000 people of Gumrash and adjoining localities still consume water of an unhygienic pond,” they said.

The pond locally called as ‘Jewarh’ accumulates rainwater. It is the only source of water for the people and animals of the area.

Naseeb Ghani, the village council nazim, told this scribe that residents of the area had been using the water of the pond for the last 15 years. He said that women and children fetched water in pots from the pond and then used it for cooking and drinking purposes.

Mr Ghani claimed that he had raised the issue of lack of potable water in the area at various forums but nobody bothered to respond positively.

Qari Taj Mohammad, a local resident, said that there was not any water spring, tube-well or water channel in the mountainous region so the dwellers of Gumrash were forced to consume rainwater, accumulated in the pond.

He said that women from far-flung localities came there to fetch water in pitchers. Qari Taj said that leaders of various political parties came to seek votes from them and then disappeared till next elections. He said that local people were waiting for a messiah to resolve their issue.

Sarwara Bibi, a local woman, said that she took water from the pond in a pitcher on her head daily since long. She claimed that she had lost her hair due to carrying heavy pitcher on her head daily.

Ms Bibi said that her neighbours Marina and Sherin Saba also lost their hair owing heavy pitchers on their heads. She said that children of the area were suffering from multiple water-borne diseases due to drinking unhygienic water. She urged the government to take pity on the people of the area and provide drinking water to them.

Dr Dil Nawaz, head of tehsil headquarters hospital in Chakesar, said that polio cases were detected in the area due to reported presence of poliovirus in the rainwater pond. He said that hepatitis, cholera, gastroenteritis, diarrhoea and skin diseases were common among the people of Gumrash. He said that most of the patients, visiting the hospital, suffered from water-borne diseases.

Sana Azhar Khan, a social activist, told this scribe that he had personally visited the area and saw the people drinking rainwater. She said that animals also drank water of the same pond.

Ms Khan said that the area was backward and people were residing in mud houses. She said that people had no access to basic amenities including potable water, electricity and even health facilities.

Haji Abdul Munim, special assistant to chief minister, said that he visited the area two times and examined the situation. He said that basic reason behind scarcity of water was lack of natural water sources in the area.

However, he said that he would seek favour of chief minister to resolve problems of the people of that backward area.

Published in Dawn, April 1st, 2016

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