Treated Water: A Growing Business

By: Ali Raza Arain

Availability of safe and clean water has become one of the major issues of Pakistan. Though, we have number of rivers and one of the finest canal systems of the world, yet we are compelled to grumble about unavailability of clean water.

Access to safe drinking water is a fundamental human need and also a basic human right. United Nation's Organization (UNO) affirms it as a responsibility of the state to provide purified drinking water to the masses.

But in Pakistan, most of the people have no access to the clean water. During the recent years, the main problem observed in rural areas is shortage of drinkable water; on the other hand, metro cities are facing issues of contaminated water.

As a result of bad monitoring and surveillance and absence of water supply in cities, water-filtering has now become a business more than just a need.

Taking Hyderabad city as an example, safe water is now a luxury that remains out of reach of common a citizen.

The plants installed by the Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) are not working properly or are completely out of function. Therefore, a rapid grow in installation of private water-filtering plants has been witnessed in Hyderabad.

Taking the advantage of the non-serious attitude of WASA, people from business communities are now paying attentions in this field. Till date, more than one hundred filter-plants are functioning across the city, 50 % of them in Latifabad, and 30 % in Qasimabad, while 20 % in other parts of the city. Gallons of badly treated water with different labels are being sold on general stores.

The process of water treatment requires use of high quality substances, but, in these private plants; water is being treated in non-technical ways with sub-standard water-purifying chemicals.

There are two varieties of water-purifying chemicals available in the market with a huge difference in their prices. If a bag of A-quality chemical costs Rs.20000, while bag of B-quality is easily available for Rs. 3000. To earn more, water Mafia use substandard chemical which jeopardizes the human health.

It is estimated in Pakistan, 30 % diseases are due to the badly treated or unhygienic water and more than two million people suffer from water-borne diseases in our country.

The government should take concrete steps for tackling the whole issue of the water, including due actions against these private plant owners to reduce the health risks.

Trained staff should be brought in WASA to ensure the adequate water treatment before it is supplied to the people.