Communal riots feared in Karachi on water shortage


It’s not an assumption. It’s a fact. It’s a fact for those who don’t want to follow an ostrich approach. This bird hides its head into the sand to deny the presence of a danger which it has seen a moment ago.

Water shortage is worsening in the biggest city of Karachi. Minor brawls for water share are common in streets of lower localities of the city. But now this issue may spread to community level. How? Let’s read its details.

A top official hinted the likelihood

A top administrative official of Karachi has informed a meeting that he has sent a report to higher government authorities that likelihood of communal riots on water shortage in metropolitan cannot be ruled out in near future.

Supporting his prediction he narrated the detailed account of how water is theft in the city on community basis. One linguistic group is forcefully grabbing the water share of another group by diverting it with illegal pipelines to its own residential area.

Basis of fear is water shortage and communal hatred

water shortage in KarachiThis is happening on the back of acute water shortage in the city. It has no arrangements of recycling of wastewater which falls untreated into the sea causing marine pollution.

The city is already facing riots and violence between various ethnic groups due to their conflict of interests. Almost all ethnic communities of Pakistan live in this biggest city of Pakistan and the top five of them have been in confrontation with each other on one issue or the other.

Per capita water consumption in Karachi

According to World Health Organization per capita per day water consumption should be 40 gallons. But in Karachi one person hardly has average 13 gallon water to meet all his daily water needs. The total population of the city has already crossed 20 million mark but officially it is still declared 120 million. That is why water resources are allocated to it according to official figures of the population. As a result each person is getting nearly 60 per cent less water of his due share and 80 per cent lesser according to WHO standards of per capita share. It is enough to tell the level of water crisis in this city of persistent mayhem.

It is widely feared that if per capita water consumption declines further it may cause various environmental and health problems. Most important of them is decline in hygienic conditions of residential areas and personal cleanliness. It may eventually spread more diseases and cause health problems.

Disastrous political impact

The political implications of decline in per capita water share will be more disastrous. The city is already divided on the basis of communities. Its each area is heaven for one community and hell for the rest of others. Very few areas of the city are left where all ethnic groups can live amicably. Such areas are also purely commercial in nature where business communities set aside their ethnic backgrounds for the cause of their business interests.

In such a situation the confrontation between various communities to increase their water share is likely. Minor brawls on water share have already started in the city, which go unreported because of their little impact. However, if things go in same pace with regard to water shortage it is likely that communities will start fighting each other to divert supply of more water to their areas.

It may be pointed out that for various commercial and economic interests several communal groups have fought worst fights in the past that also took lives of hundreds of people. Major population of the city belongs to Urdu, Sindhi, Punjabi, Pakhtoon and Baloch communities.

Causes and solutions

The top official of Karachi avoiding to tell any further details of his report just told a meeting held in March 2014 that communal riots on water shortage are obvious in the city because of three reasons:

  • Rising water shortage in the city and no hope of its control in near future
  • Escalating tension amongst various communities despite apparent impression as if nothing is wrong amongst them
  • Loose administrative control on city to maintain law and order because of growing politicizing of administration

The top official said government has to work on multiple fronts at a time. It must control the rising water shortage and make arrangements for water treatment to reuse the civic wastewater. Simultaneously government needs to tighten its grip on law and order situation of the metropolitan.

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