Sustainability of a megacity abundantly relies on effective water management and its judicious distribution. But in Karachi, keeping aside growing scarcity and contamination by unchecked industrial effluents, the available water supply appears to be largely in the clutches of violent and unlawful racketeers across the city. Specifically, the dominance of tanker mafia and impotence of Karachi Water & Sewerage Board (KWSB) against unlawful water supply and illegal connections is well known. However, the murder of sub engineer Furqan Akhter a day ago, who was part of the anti-water theft team taking action against this lawlessness, is unprecedented. That just shows how much powerful and brutal these water mafias are and also share unwillingness on behalf of higher authorities to tackle against these criminal elements.
Karachi Water Mismanagement
Hardly any one denies the scarcity and maneuvering of water supply in the city has been worsened due to illegal water hydrants, water theft, illegal connections and untamed constructions of high-rises. It is estimated more than 60% population and 80% area in the city has not access to the tab water supply. And, when the state run water supply failed, the water mafia stepped in to distribute water in those areas where supply lines are not laid.
The District West is the most affected region in Karachi where tap supply water is almost inexistent, therefore water mafia rule this area with illegal water connections, carts and tankers. A 66 feet diameter HTV water line is the main channel of water supply to the West, but is often deliberately holed for water theft by tankers and criminal mafias. KWSB staff reported this theft and repaired it many times but in vain.
Murder of KWSB Engineer
This is the area where Furqan Akhtar was shot dead located on the outskirts of the city near Hub Dam, while he was on to visit the Hub filter plant. According to the Manghopir SHO, the sub engineer Furqan Haider was intercepted by armed motorcyclists at Hub filter plant, who fired at him with a 9 mm pistol and escaped. KWSB Chief Executive Officer Syed Salahuddin Ahmed reveals the victim as “actively engaged in anti-theft operations in parts of the city”. “He was a highly dedicated employee and complainant in several FIRs against water theft”, he says.
The police claim they are investigating the incident from different angles, as the motorcycle of the victim was missing from the crime scene. They suspected that the incident could have been a mugging. But the KWSB CEO said that police investigators should not rule out the possibility of targeted killing as he was fatally shot in the head.
Patronizing Tankers Mafia
In August 2016 a Supreme Court bench already remarked that the KWSB was patronizing the mafia running the illegal water hydrants and selling the essential commodity to residents at higher prices than tap water. Today, Karachites rely on tanker mafia for supply of water at large. These moving monsters get water from hydrants and supply to homes on their own rates.
The KWSB claims that there are 24 legal hydrants in the metropolitan serving 20% area of the city. However there are reportedly hundreds of illegal hydrants and other filling points who siphon off the water from the main supply. As reported, over 10 MGD water is stolen per day from the system but independent sources doubt this figure and claim the maneuvering in water distribution and other ways of water theft is even enormous and still unchecked in the city.