PESHAWAR:  Experts expressed concerns over the looming water crisis in the country and called for collective efforts to conserve depleting water resources. They said water conservation is the collective responsibility of everyone and stressed on involving all stakeholders at every stage or else there would be no water if practices to wastewater continued.

These views were an event organized here by the Association of Water and Sanitation Services Companies (AWSC) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on World Water Day.

Secretary Local Government, Elections and Rural Development Department Zahir Shah while addressing the gathering said that to conserve water, he said, KP has started charging Rs1 per litre from water companies in light of the Supreme Court judgment. “Though the government is taking steps on multiple fronts to conserve water it would not bear fruits unless people play their due role,” he said.

He said that CCTV cameras will soon be installed on commercial utilities, adding that legislation was underway to charge consumers for extraction of groundwater. “The provincial government to constitute a task force led by minister for LGE and RDD that will make a strategy to conserve water and ensure everyone’s access to it,” he said.

Among the speakers were Secretary Local Government, Elections and Rural Development Department Zahir Shah, Chairman AWSC Nasir Ghafoor Khan, former VC of University of Engineering and Technology Imtiaz Gillani, Prof Dr Sagheer Aslam and heads of all water and sanitation services companies in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Chief Executive Officer WSSP, Syed Zafar Ali Shah informed Water and Sanitation Services Peshawar (WSSP) has replaced 284 kilometres rusted water pipeline and conducted 2000 water quality tests jointly with University of Engineering and Technology, Peshawar and Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research to check contamination.

On conservation, he said, all car wash centres, wedding halls and bottled water companies being registered and installation of meters on them are underway.  WSSP CEO said that over 10,000 illegal water connections have been registered during the ongoing campaign.

Former vice-chancellor UET Peshawar, Imtiaz Gillani said that 844 million people have no access to clean drinking water worldwide. “We must take steps to conserve water before it is too late,” he warned.

“In Pakistan, we have access to one per cent of fresh water of which a major chunk goes to the agriculture sector,” said Dr Sagheer Alam, a teacher at University of Engineering Technology Peshawar. He suggested installing water meters and charging all those who use this precious commodity otherwise people would not take care of it. “No is the basic right of everyone, but no one has the right to waste it,” he said.