The officials of Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) and Thar Foundation on Saturday showed their willingness to run the RO plants in Thar to provide the clean drinking water to the people of Tharparkar district. The officials showed their gesture after it was emerged that only 95 percent of the 635 government reverse osmosis (RO) plants have become dysfunctional due to poor governance in district Tharparkar and added that a public-private partnership model providing WHO standard clean drinking water to the local populace and that too being successfully run by the local women was providing the relief to the desert dewellers.
It was stated that Thar Foundation, a Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) owned not-for-profit company, had been successfully running 17 RO plants installed in taluka of Islamkot in district Tharparkar for the last 4 years. ” Out of 17 RO plants, 10 belonged to the government of Sindh and were dysfunctional since its installation around the year 2012 and these RO plants providing WHO standard water to around 25000-30000 local population has become a governing model at the time when most parts of the desert district are facing the worst water crises forcing the people to migrate to the barrage with their cattle herds” added Mr Mohsin Babar, the spokesperson of SECMC and Thar Foundation while speaking to the media persons.
Mr Babbar commenting on the current water crisis in Thar, informed that running RO plants in Thar and rehabilitating the dysfunctional was not an arduous task. Since 90 percent of the water fetchers from these RO Plants are women, the best way to make these plants successfully operational is to make them in- charge of the operations and management, said Mr Babbar.” Our trained women operators are running these costly plants very efficiently to provide quality water to the residents, he added and said that they hired the local women and then got them trained to provide the water to the people at their doorsteps” he added. Providing safe drinking water to the people must be the top priority of all the stakeholders in Thar, he said and informed them that they had devised a number of the plans to go ahead with the mission to provide as many basic amenities to Tharis as they could do under the obtaiting situations.
He said that their mining company and the foundation took upon responsibility sensing the importance and the significance of the water life of the people of the desert district. ” It is yet another challenge but we are ready to take upon to provide more basic facilities to the people of Tharparkar with the active support of the government of Sindh” he added and hoped that their sincere offer would get the attention of the high-ups of Sindh government.
To question, Mr Mohsin Babbar confirmed that a proposal had been submitted to the government of Sindh to handover dysfunctional RO plants to Thar Foundation for best delivery to the local population starting within the limits of taluka of Islamkot.
“Thar Foundation is not a commercial entity and has demonstrated successfully running these RO plants through local women operators,” he said, adding that they had a solution to the problem but they can’t go ahead without the nod from functionaries of Sindh government. He said that the SECMC was a public-private partnership model between the government of Sindh and Engro Corporation with 54.7 percent shares owned by the former and the rest by Engro, Hubco, HBL, and other partners. He said that Thar Foundation was established by SECMC to carry out community development schemes and programs to benefit the local population.
According to reports submitted to the Supreme Court Implementation Committee, out of 635 government RO plants installed across district Tharparkar mainly by the Public Health Engineering Department, only 120 are functional and only half of the supply filtered drinking water to the local population. A senior official of the PHED told this correspondent that three attempts to call bids for the smooth operation and maintenance of dysfunctional RO plants in district Tharparkar had failed and yielded no results. “We need to come up with the out-of-box thinking and look for already successful models,” said the official.
The experts working on the different issues of the desert district when contacted opined that all those costly plants installed by the Sindh government with huge funds to provide safe drinking water across the district if handed over as a public-private partnership model could provide them with the water at the time when harsh summers were hardships for the residents. They said that after the closure of over six hundred costly plants even in the big towns like Mithi, Islamkot, Chhachhro, and other areas people especially women had to travel miles to fetch water for their families. They said that providing safe drinking water to the desert dwellers should be the priority of the high-ups of the Sindh government by putting the waterworks in the smooth order by soliciting help from the firms and other organizations working in the desert district keeping in view the success story of Thar Foundation. Here it is pertinent to mention that water crises have deteriorated in various areas of Tharparkar with the advent of the rising temperatures.