Thirty-year-old Anisa is a resident of Tehsil Faizganj of District Khairpur. She is a school teacher, and her husband Kamal Khan is an ASI in Central Jail Khairpur. Therefore, a few years ago, she also shifted to the district headquarters along with her children.
He has taken a house on rent in Arisha Colony. It has been eight years of marriage. Among the three children, daughter Saima is seven years old. After that, Asim and Chazel were born.
On the evening of March 8 this year, three-year-old Chisel started vomiting and diarrhoea. Anisa took the son to Civil Hospital, where he was admitted, but there was no sign of recovery till morning. When Kamal Khan reached home from duty in the evening, Chisel lost the life battle.
Anisa was told by doctors that “the child had diarrhoea along with cholera due to drinking bad water.”
According to official records, five patients, including two children, died of cholera in Civil Hospital Khairpur that night.
Dr. Ejaz Ghajani has been the Senior Physician and District Health Officer of Khairpur Medical College Hospital. He says that diseases are increasing due to the dangerous bacteria present in the water.
He says that in January this year, more than 4,000 patients with diseases like typhoid, hepatitis A, dysentery, and cholera were admitted to the Medical College Hospital, its affiliated City Hospital, and Lady Wellington Hospital. Three and a half hundred patients died out of them.
Khairpur Mirs is a centuries-old city. After the defeat of the Kalhora dynasty by the Talpurs in the late 18th century, the city remained the capital of the Khairpur state for 172 years. After the abolition of Khairpur state in 1955, Khairpur was made a district.
During the last five years, the population of Khairpur City has increased rapidly. Thousands of people have migrated from the villages and settled here. According to the 2017 census, the population of this city was 777 thousand, which has now reached 885 thousand.
For the past several years, the government water supply scheme has not been able to provide clean water to more than half of the city’s population, resulting in an acute shortage of drinking water. Even underground water is not potable and citizens are forced to drink unsanitary tap water.
Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Technical University Khairpur Professor Dr. Asim Ali Abaro has done his PhD on drinking water. He says that on November 22, 2022, water samples were obtained from more than 35 city areas.
“The water in 70 per cent of areas of Khairpur, including Banaras Colony, Arisha Colony, Civil Hospital, Technical College, Janwari Goth Police Lines, Gharibabad, Shahi Bazar, Mir Ali Bazar, Chourigar Bazar is not fit for drinking.”
Professor Asim says that from Luqman to Panj Hatti, Faizabad, and Radio Pakistan to the District Jail of Khairpur, there is an excess amount of arsenic and excess salts in the underground water.
Shabir Haider, Executive Engineer of the Public Health Department, told Lok Sujag that 200,000 gallons of water are being supplied daily from Khairpur Water Works. But the city needs more than 478,000 gallons of water per day. That is why people face difficulties.
In December 2022, Advocate Manzoor Ansari filed a petition in the Sessions Court against the politicians and the administration over the high number of deaths in hospitals in which the city was blamed for poor water supply. However, after his death in February this year, the case could not be heard.
According to the data of the hospitals, 29 thousand 590 patients were admitted to the three government hospitals of the city till June this year, and 1,985 patients died out of them. Last year, 55,357 patients were admitted, out of which 2,357 lost their lives.
According to the official data, 4,342 patients died in the government hospitals of Khairpur city in the last year and a half, of which five hundred children were included.
KMC professor Dr Farrukh Behanbehru says most deaths were due to diseases from bad water. Due to a lack of clean water supply, people are forced to drink contaminated water.
Altaf Abro, in charge of Khairpur Water Works, told Lok Sujag that Syed Qaim Ali Shah had built 15 pumping stations on Mir Wah and Rohri Canal. This project was completed in 2019. The motors of seven of these pumps were burnt in the heavy rains of 2022, which could not be repaired till now.
“We have repeatedly sent proposals to the government to provide uninterrupted water supply to all the people of the city, but so far nothing has been done.”
Altaf Abro said that he sent a letter to the Works and Development Department of Sindh through the Executive Engineer of Public Health on October 21, 2022. A reminder letter was sent in February 2023, but there was no response.
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“We have requested the government to install five more big ponds, three big tanks, and five pumping stations on Mirwah Canal and four on Rohri Canal in the city and to repair the motors of seven burned pumping stations.”
He said that if this project is implemented, clean drinking water can be provided to more than three lakh citizens.
Deputy Commissioner Khairpur Ahmed Fawad Shah told Lok Sujag that it has been only one month since he took charge of the post.
“We are trying to provide clean water to public health and Khairpur municipal citizens. However, due to the rapidly growing population, problems are arising.”
Former MNA Syeda Nafisa Shah, while talking to Lok Sujag, said that the closure of four pumps in Mera Wah Canal and three pumps in Rohri Canal for one year is a matter of mismanagement and should be investigated.
Former MNA Dr Mehreen Bhutto told Lok Sujag that she had distributed 2,000 hand pumps in her constituency along with Khairpur city from her MNA fund.
“Along with this, I completed the drinking water supply projects in the towns of Pir Jogoth and Ahmedpur of Tehsil Kangri. Water filter plants have also been installed in five union councils of the city.”
Published on 4 Nov 2023