Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Earth Science News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

The 'water mafias' that suck Karachi dry
By Guillaume LAVALLÉE
Karachi (AFP) Oct 4, 2015

The moment they saw the city water tanker stop in their neighbourhood, Mohammed and Nayla rushed towards it. That day, the water was free -- a rare event in Karachi, where organised gangs siphon it off to sell to thirsty residents.

In Sadiqabad and other Karachi slums, water barely flows through the pipe meant to supply the shacks packed along the rutted earth lanes.

The shortage doesn't just annoy the millions of residents in Pakistan's largest city -- this summer it exacerbated the effects of a heatwave which killed more than 1,200 people.

Over recent decades Karachi has expanded in an uncontrolled, unplanned way, booming from 500,000 to 20 million inhabitants in the space of 60 years and sprawling over an area 33 times the size of central Paris.

The coastal city pumps around 2.2 billion litres (580 million US gallons) of water a day from the Indus and Hub rivers, which have seen their flow reduced by insufficient rains in recent years.

But it is not enough to meet demand in a metropolis where the vital textile industry gobbles up huge amounts.

Mohammad Akeel Siddiq works in one such factory, earning 10,000 rupees ($100) a month with which he supports his wife Nayla and their five children.

From time to time the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) fills the reservoir in their neighbourhood and residents flock to it.

But the rest of the time they turn to the semi-clandestine mafias that control the lucrative trade in water distributed by tankers.

The family pays up to $15 a month for water -- which is not even always safe to drink.

"The water is polluted and dirty so we only use it for washing and cooking," Nayla told AFP.

"The children sometimes get diarrhoea when they drink that water."

As a result the family are sometimes forced to use money they should spend on food to buy clean drinking water.

- Dig, pump, bill -

The water mafias dig tunnels to tap into the mains supply, stealing millions of gallons a day, said Iftikhar Ahmed Khan of KWSB.

"These illegal hydrants are established by armed people, so it is very difficult for KWSB staff to just dismantle them," he told AFP.

In recent months government forces on a major anti-crime crackdown in the city have shuttered 200 illegal water connections, forcing many tankers to refill from KWSB and pay fees of $1-2 per 1,000 US gallons (3,700 litres).

The water is then resold for at least 10 times that price a few kilometres (miles) away in slums, posh neighbourhoods and industrial areas.

"There is an enormous amount of demand... (but) there is no regulatory check of the price the tankers are charging to the customer," said Noman Ahmed, an expert on the water crisis at NED university in Karachi.

On the ground the gangs continue to steal from the network while others pump directly from the groundwater table to resell what is undrinkable saline water.

- Water, water everywhere -

Karachi's textile factories -- the lifeblood of the Pakistani economy -- use hundreds of millions of litres of water a day producing fabrics, T-shirts and jeans, many of which are exported to the West.

One industrialist speaking on condition of anonymity admitted paying bribes to ensure the water kept flowing to his factory, but said even then he was sometimes forced to turn to the tanker gangs.

Many rich people are investing in powerful suction pumps to draw what water there is from the mains -- thereby depriving their neighbours of their supply.

Karachi is on the Arabian Sea, but desalination costs are prohibitively expensive -- and, with the water table falling and the population continuing to boom, it seems the city's water woes are only just beginning.

"The government says there are water shortages," said Abdul Samad, resident of the poor Metroville area.

"But we see tankers in our neighbourhood every day -- where's that water coming from?"

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only


Related Links
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
A new analysis and approach to watershed management
Amherst MA (SPX) Sep 23, 2015
The first continent-wide, multi-factor analysis of climate and land cover effects on watersheds in the United States, published this week, provides a broad new assessment of runoff, flooding and storm water management options for use by such professionals as land use and town planners and water quality managers. Watershed scientist Timothy Randhir and his doctoral student Paul Ekness in th ... read more

Pentagon chief arrives in Europe amid Syrian, Afghan crises

US boy, 11, kills girl, eight, over puppy

UN slams 'inexcusable' Afghan hospital air strike that killed 19

China leader throws support behind UN peacekeeping

Thousand-fold fluorescence enhancement in an all-polymer thin film

Australian broadband satellite begins post-launch maneuvers

ESA entrusts Indra with data storage for the Sentinel 2B satellite

WPI team recovers rare earths from electric and hybrid vehicle motors

The 'water mafias' that suck Karachi dry

Chile declares huge Easter Island marine reserve

Extreme Pacific sea level events to double in future

Novel tag developed for squid, jellyfish

Warmer temperatures stimulate diversity of soil fungi

Ice samples from Greenland and Russia provide clues to climate

Arctic sea ice still too thick for regular shipping through Northwest

UAF model used to estimate Antarctic ice sheet melting

Plants with jobs

Root microbiome engineering improves plant growth

ASU study finds weather extremes harmful to grasslands

The origin and spread of 'Emperor's rice'

Four dead as southern China battered by Typhoon Mujigae

17 dead as heavy flooding hits French Riviera

Massive clean-up after 20 killed in French Riviera floods

Record-setting rains submerge parts of US Southeast

Two Niger soldiers killed in 'Boko Haram ambush'

Burkina Faso coup leader in police custody: security source

Britain to send troops to Somalia for training

U.K. to send troops to Somalia and South Sudan

Woman sits dead for hours in Hong Kong McDonald's

2-million-year-old fossils reveal hearing abilities of early humans

How to find out about the human mind through stone

Targeted Electrical Stimulation of the Brain Shows Promise as a Memory Aid

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement