QUETTA: The provincial administration of Balochistan on Wednesday took notice of water scarcity in Pir Koh, a settlement in the remote region of Dera Bugti in Pakistan’s southwest, which caused an outbreak of cholera and claimed the lives of at least two people.
With a population of about 40,000, the residents of the area were forced to rely on contaminated ponds to quench their thirst in the absence of adequate clean drinking water.
“Chief Minister Balochistan Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo has taken notice of water scarcity in Pir Koh area of Dera Bugti,” said an official statement circulated by his office. “A special fund of Rs10 million has been released to the PHE [Public Health Engineering] department to supply water [to the area] on an emergency basis.”
The statement noted that the provincial administration had also decided to send medical teams to Pir Koh while instructing relevant authorities to ensure continuous water supply to the area with the help of tankers until the beginning of the monsoon season.
According to local officials, about 1,500 people were facing health issues due to the cholera outbreak which also claimed the lives of a woman and a child on Wednesday morning.
“The basic health unit [in Pir Koh] has been treating nearly 1,500 patients, most of them women and children, with clear symptoms of diarrhea since the last week of April after the town was hit by a cholera outbreak,” Azam Bugti, district health officer in Dera Bugti, told Arab News.
“We collected water samples from ponds being used for drinking purposes which have tested positive for the bacteria causing cholera,” he added.
Pictures and video clips on social media showed the residents of Pir Koh fetching contaminated water from a pool to meet their requirements, as hundreds of others queued up to get clean drinking water from bousers sent by the provincial administration.
“The water needs of people in the area increased as temperature started rising in the first week of May,” said the deputy commissioner of Dera Bugti, Mumtaz Kethran. “Unfortunately, water level in most of the towns in Dera Bugti has dropped to about a thousand feet. Hence, the population is now dependent on rains.”
Dera Bugti, a town rich with natural gas, has been fulfilling the country’s fuel requirements since 1951, though poverty and lawlessness have deprived its own people of basic needs during all these decades.
Pakistan’s state-owned Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) has been regularly providing four water bousers to fulfill the needs of people in Pir Koh, but they are no longer sufficient for the growing population of the area.
“We have been getting these water bousers for the population of 40,000 people,” Shahid Husain Bugti, a resident of the settlement, said. “However, they are not enough to meet the needs of Pir Koh.”