MITHI: Sahji, an elderly resident of Chhahu village in Chachhro taluka of Tharparkar, walks up to a water reservoir in Sanwaryo-jo-Par, located about one kilometre away from her village, to fill a few buckets tied to the back of a donkey and take them home.
It’s her daily routine. The water available to the people living in villages surrounding the reservoir for drinking and all other purposes is untreated. It is supplied through a pipeline originating from a canal in Kunri.
But the population of Chhachhro taluka and certain other parts of Thar will now get great relief not only from a shortage of the most essential commodity but also from water-borne diseases as the region these days is witnessing a brisk activity in the water sector.
The Sindh government plans to install 300 reverse osmosis (RO) plants in water-starved regions of the province by February. The number of the ROs already made operational is 150.
“A whopping Rs5.4 billion allocation has been made by the provincial government for the project,” said Irshad Hussain, the chief operating officer of Pak Oasis — the company that has been working in Thar’s water sector since 2004. Mithi, the headquarters of this desert district, gets canal water once in a month from its Naukot source.
He said that 25 per cent of the total cost is borne by the government. Giving the status of the project, he said 750 plants had been procured along with solar system and allied equipment.
The civil work at the 300 sites had been completed and the execution of the project would be completed by June this year, he added.
The firm is said to have signed an agreement with government under the Special Initiative Department (SID) but its secretary, Ejaz Ahmed Khan, appeared not ready to share details of the financial aspect of the project.
Billed as ‘Asia’s largest (capacity-wise) RO water filter plant’ , a 2mgd (million gallon per day) plant that has been installed in the Misri Shah area of Mithi, is to be inaugurated on Wednesday by Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman and former president of the country Asif Ali Zardari.
Originally, the inauguration ceremony was scheduled earlier but had to be postponed due to Mr Zardari’s preoccupation in Islamabad.
This plant can be operated either through electricity or solar energy and has a treating capacity of 4,000 to 15,000 PPM of total dissolved solids (TDS), says Irshad Khan, the company’s technical executive in Mithi.
“It is solar energy that matters here in this region as it makes operation of ROs cost effective,” says PPP Senator Taj Hyder, who is monitoring the execution of RO plants in Thar.
“We are converting old [RO] plants to solar system and one of them, functional at Sabharo Shah since 2006 has already been converted,” he adds.
The biggest RO plant at Misri Shah RO has been established at a cost of Rs300 million while many smaller plants having a capacity of 10,000 gallons per day have been set up across the region at a cost of around Rs2.5 million each.
Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2015