Sunday, February 1, 2015

Expensive water plants won’t quench thirst in Pakistan’s Thar desert

Zofeen T. Ebrahim in Eco-Business: In early January former president and co-chairperson of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Asif Ali Zardari, inaugurated what is touted to be one of Asia’s largest reverse osmosis water purification plants in Mithi city in Tharparkar district, Sindh province.

This is just one of 750 plants in the pipeline, which the Sindh government – run by the PPP – claims will bring drinking water to the drought prone region. But experts say the expensive technology is inappropriate for dispersed local communities and building canals and rain ponds would provide a more reliable stream of water in the long run.

Tharparkar lies in the south-east of Sindh province. With a population of about 1.2 million, it is one of the poorest of Pakistan’s 120 districts, with the lowest Human Development Index. People live in harsh conditions where even the smallest weather aberration can have huge repercussions. Last year, the 30 per cent less than average rainfall led to over 600 deaths, including infants, mostly due to malnutrition. The region, bordering the Indian states of Rajasthan and Gujarat has been facing drought for the third consecutive year.

...All this provides good political sound bites but these reverse osmosis (RO) plants are not really the answer to the region’s water proble
ms say experts. First, the plants do not have the capacity to supply sufficient water to the local population. At a newly government-installed RO plant in the village of Fangrio, also in Tharparkar, three dozen or so people including men women and children were seen bickering and fighting over the limited waster produced by the plant.

The plant does not provide nearly enough water for the village of 500 households. ...The plants are also costly and difficult to maintain. ...[T]he community has not been given sufficient training to operate and maintain these plants, although company representative Burney claims the water plants have generated local employment opportunities.  The plants also consume large amounts of energy , something which is also in short supply....

In the Thar desert, shot by Valentina Pierantonio, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported2.5 Generic2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license

No comments: