Seriously speaking, this is the most serious topic of our times in Islamabad. If we don’t take steps now, things will get very bad here. In the past we have seen entire towns and villages getting desolate due the the turning of a river. In the present times, with education and facilities, people have usually faced the problems well in time, to avoid such situations.
Islamabad was begun in 1960, so it is a very new city of our times. Saidpur village was probably the only habitation here, in this location, in recent history.
Now, suddenly, with the onslaught of thousands of people coming to settle here, and the latest CPEC agreements, hundreds of thousands more are expected to come and stay in this beautiful city. Suddenly, with this news, the water got even more depressed and the level went down very rapidly.
The first thing that is analyzed before construction of a house, is the availability of underground water. The underground water level in Islamabad was easily reached by going around 140 feet deep. That is how it has been for many years.
In the street where I live, first the water depleted, for one house, then the second, till every house on my street had no water left. We all had to pay water tankers to come and supply water to each house. Sometimes one’s turn would come at 11.00 p.m. or even later. That too just one of the water tanks in the house would be filled. The society’s supply also wasn’t enough.
Something drastic was needed, so, lots of owners of houses either got the present boring water pump deepened, or got new water boring done, (- no there is nothing boring about it!) They have been paying quite a sum of money, which is anything between Rs.1,50,000/- to Rs. 2,00,000/- ($ 2000/-) Many fraudulent ‘experts’ also emerged on the scene, who would take the money and run.
So, I was apprehensive.
While I was still considering the options, my worthy neighbors helped me by joining their garden hose pipes to supplement water in my home. God bless them with health, water and happiness. Amen. Finally, I made the decision. Found a person who had references, and experience in my area, and gave him the project.
The machines were shifted over, and the work began.
The water was reached deep down below around 180 feet. But then there were more stones, and then he dug deeper still, the water came after 250 feet. The measurement was done, by putting down a heavy tool tied to a string to the bottom of the 6.5inches wide pipe. Yes, 268 feet deep finally. So, thank God my story got happily ended.
I had insisted on preparing a contract of agreement between the owner of the project and myself, with all details and specifications. My tenant had recently got a house built near the airport so he agreed to supervise the whole operation.
So, I found out that:
- Before getting the boring done, you have to find a person with references, and one who has experience in your own area.
- The contract needs to have exact specifications written: e.g. The size and depth of the pipe. The brand to be used for each and every item used.
- Clarify the exact location of the boring to be done, considering its distance from the water storage tanks – both underground and overhead.
- Also, to get fully automatic systems applied, to the water tanks.
- In my case I just paid Rs.10,000/- advance which he took many days after starting. Then Rs.1,00,000/- on completion.
- The rest to be paid two to three weeks after its successful.
The situation is alarming. Abdul Rehman’s father Ramzan, who is the real expert said, ‘previously, we didn’t have this problem because there were lessor houses here. There were more natural ground and so when it rained, more water was absorbed into the ground. This maintained the underground level of water. Now, with more cemented areas, the rain water just flows to lower areas without getting absorbed.’ This reminded me of that Quranic verse:
Do you not see how Allah sends down water from the sky which penetrates the earth and comes out through springs? (Surah 23: Ayat 21)
In rural areas there is a tradition of having ‘bannis’ or small man-made ponds in and near most villages. The rain water is collected here to facilitate normal chores and having drinking water for farm animals. However, this is not a tradition in the cities.
Last year when I visited Seattle, USA, I saw that they have man-made ponds in every locality. When I first saw it, it felt so wasteful, but now I realize the wisdom of it. The rain water gets collected in these, also giving refuge and place to live for wildlife here too. I have often seen ducks. There are regular checks done by the authorities, and the area is cordoned off with strong wire mesh and padlocked. This is the greatest beauty of it. So, there is no question of pilferage.
Here is Pakistan, there is no concept of preserving this water in ponds, people use it in many different ways. There are small ponds and mini-lakes in different parts of the Fatima Jinnah or F-9 Park here, which are fine. However, these ponds need to be maintained in all the residential and green areas too. The ravines can have mini-dams installed, where the gushing rainwater can be controlled a bit.
In short, not to waste even a few drops of water at any time. The well-known saying of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to be reminded to all:
‘When performing ablutions for prayers, do not waste the water, even if you are next to a river.’
There is a beautiful little pond near my home, and I love to call it a lake. I love to drive down to it. There is a nursery for saplings and flowers across the road from it, and I see that the person has installed a motor next to the pond to take water for his nursery.
The other day, I actually saw a water tanker guzzling water from the pond and getting filled there. I was furious. I thought I’m going to report that water tanker’s company to the Capital Development Authority. So, I made a gesture to the driver to come to me, he did. When I asked, he said he was from CDA, and they were constructing a road nearby, and were using this water! I just shook my head, and wondered whom to report to now?
This water level problem can be solved by adding more greenery too. In order to have more greenery, the system of roof gardens can be inculcated, along with planting of trees and shrubs everywhere. Growing vegetables and fruit trees is useful and economical too. The government has got nurseries from where you can get free tree saplings and go and plant them wherever you go. Why not?
Water problem in Islamabad needs to be owned by each one of us. We have to take responsibility. In the end we are the greatest ones to suffer.
It is so painful to watch the leaders and different factions in our country bickering and fighting about self-created issues and disrupting traffic and ‘normal’ life, when major issues are to be tackled by all. We are sitting with the time bomb of over-population ticking among us and a failed judicial system, to name a couple of major issues….
Sigh. Very sad. 🙁
Perhaps the biggest problem is the blame game. Let us own up to doing whatever we can within our own domains to improve ourselves, community, country and this beautiful world. We’ve got to leave a better world for our children and grand-children. We have to ask ‘what can I do to improve this situation?’
Let me suggest a few things?
- Plant more trees in and around your house.
- Plant its saplings in places that do not belong to you also.
- Have a roof garden, so your roof is green.
- Have the plantation on boundary walls and within, for more oxygen and greenery.
- Find ways to conserve rain water from the roof.
- Use water wisely and sparingly.
- Check up all your taps etc. for leakages and drips, and get instant repairs as soon as possible.
- Personally supervise to make sure no water is wasted in your own home or organization where you work.
- Make a pressure group to try to build mini-dams in ravines to collect rain water.
- Each one of us needs to take responsibility within their own community to find ways to conserve water.
Do share more ideas to conserve water with me, so I can add them here. Let us all help each other solve the water crises before it gets out of hand.
Stay blessed my dear Reader. 🙂
Dear Shireen Apaa,
Your have addressed such an important issue which not only effects cities like Islamabad and Karachi but also other cities of well developed country. I am not expert in the water conservation but I believe strongly that we should have more green areas in a city which not only helps in absorbing the extra water in case of flooding but can also provide water when needed. Here in USA as you have mentioned we have ponds in every development. In addition, we have green lawns all around our home. In most of the suburbs you will find that the houses are separated with large yards on both sides, front and back. Also, there are so much greenery even on the highways.
I love reading your blog. You are truly and inspiration and has inspired my to write again which I haven’t done for ages.
Thank you so much for writing your comment. Really love feedback from my readers. After all, this whole effort is for you! Yes, you are so right, we are working on those other points too. Each one of us has to do our best in whatever way we can.
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