By A.B. Arisar
24th March, 2011
UMERKOT, March 23: Speakers at seminars held to mark the World Water Day have highlighted the plight of water-starved Tharis, pointed out flaws in water supply projects and presented proposals to ensure availability of water in the villages.
Speakers at one of the seminars organised by an NGO, Applied Water and Renewable Energy (AWARE), at the Government High School in Chhachhro, said that coal exploration in Thar would lower the underground water table. It will also affect the environment, ecology, flora and fauna.
They expressed dissatisfaction over costly schemes of reverse osmosis plants, undertaken by the Sindh Coal Authority and designed for high output of treated water.
They said there was no need for such ambitious schemes in villages of Thar as the region needs small, low-cost projects with less water output.
The experts called for formation of a water authority with an integrated development approach.
Referring to scarcity of water testing facility and provision guidelines for the area, the speakers urged the Sindh government to include the issues in its safe drinking water policy.
They also raised the issue of water contamination, urging the district government and Taluka councils to provide household level bio-sand filters in Tharparkar, particularly the low-cost Nadi (urn) filter introduced by an NGO.
Fatima Saand, a schoolteacher, said women were the biggest sufferers in the absence of fresh water in Thar since they have to walk long distances to fetch water.The seminars were attended by social activists, researchers, women and villagers of Samoo Rind. The speakers included AWARE chief Ali Akbar Rahimoon, columnist Arbab Nek Mohammad and Bharumal Amrani.
Speakers at another seminar, organised by SUKAR, an NGO, said although 210 tubewells had been installed in Thar over the last three decades by the government as well as NGOs at a cost of four to seven million rupees each, 85 per cent of them were out of order.
The speakers urged the authorities to conduct an impact assessment of all such schemes and take measures for reviving these tubewells.
They said the prime source of water in Thar is groundwater and around 89 per cent of is brackish. More than 20,000 wells have been dug in 2,225 villages of Thar at an average of ten dug-up wells per village.
They suggested the provision of one solar pump in each village of Thar to extract the groundwater from dug-up wells for drinking purposes.