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Rs220m scheme in jeopardy as water table dips in Landi Kotal

Rs220m scheme in jeopardy as water table dips in Landi Kotal

LANDI KOTAL: The Rs220 million scheme to supply water to Landi Kotal is in jeopardy as the survey conducted for exploration of water sources has revealed considerable depletion of underground water table and drying up of decades-old natural wells in the region due to prolonged dry spell.

The political administration announced the scheme in May 2016 after getting an amount of Rs220 million from United States Agency for International for Development (USAID) following prolonged deliberations and persuasions.

Official sources said that initially the task to explore underground water reservoirs and surface channels was assigned to the public health department of Khyber Agency.

The survey report compiled by the public health department was, however, rejected by officials of the USAID owing to ‘unrealistic and exaggerated figures’ about underground and surface water channels, they said. They added that the survey findings discredited the public health department.

Survey says decades-old wells have dried up

Officials said that a technical team of USAID then conducted its own survey by using modern technology to obtain accurate results. “The amount pledged by USAID is too big and it does not want the amount to go down the drain while relying on a faulty survey report,” they said.

Sources said that the USAID technical team was so far unable to track down permanent sources of both underground and surface water channels. The survey revealed that the underground water table had considerably depleted while the quantity of water running in natural springs on ground surface had also narrowed down over the years.

“Prolonged dry spell has also contributed to drying up of decades-old wells, dug out by locals over the years, that were also major sources of continued supply of drinking water to most parts of Landi Kotal,” said officials.

Official sources said that pumping of water from Ali Masjid water spring to Landi Kotal, that was about nine kilometres away, was not feasible as it would require round the clock electricity supply whereas Tesco was carrying out 18 hours loadshedding in Landi Kotal and surrounding areas on daily basis.

They said that the two pumping machines at Landi Khana water reservoir near Torkham had developed technical fault in May but the public health department failed so far to either replace or repair the faulty machines.

The prolonged outages of power supply also badly affected the running of tubewells in Zakhakhel area of Landi Kotal. Local residents said that public health staff was not paying proper attention to the maintenance of tubewells and only two out of the seven were operational that too for a limited timing due to excessive loadshedding.

With no immediate relief in sight, local residents are now relying mostly on free water supply by the local political administration through tankers. Officials said that the monthly bill for supply of free water reached Rs2 million.

Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2017

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