Safe drinking water is one of the basic requirements of healthy and hygienic living. Non-availability of safe drinking water leads to many waterborne diseases, in particular, those that affect the mother and child's health. According to official survey reports, 79% water samples collected from rural areas of 12 Districts in the province of Punjab were found to be unsafe for human consumption, while 88% water samples collected from rural areas of 21 Districts of the province were also found to be unsafe. Not surprisingly, then, mortality due to water borne diseases is very high.
According to a report of Consumer Rights Commission of Pakistan, supported by the Japan Fund for Global Environment (JFGE), every 5th Pakistani child under the age of five suffers from waterborne diseases; and roughly 50 percent of mortality and 40% of hospital admissions are also caused by waterborne diseases. This situation is seriously hindering Pakistan’s endeavors to attain health and poverty-related Millennium Development Goals.
In order to address this situation, the Government of Punjab has endeavored to develop a program to improve water supply in terms of, both, access and quality of drinking water, especially in unserved and underserved areas i.e. rural and peri-urban areas of the province. The Punjab Saaf Pani Company - North has been established as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to conceive, plan, design, execute and manage projects for provision of safe drinking water to the communities living in those areas.
Under the special initiative of the Chief Minister of Punjab, the Government of Punjab has established the Punjab Saaf Pani Company - North with a mandate to develop, design, plan and execute projects for providing safe drinking water solutions,prioritizing underserved areas, especially in rural and peri-urban areas of the province.
Punjab Saaf Pani Company - North (PSPC - N) was incorporated in 2017 under Section 42 of the Companies Ordinance 1984, and is currently in the process of planning and designing projects in the province. The process involves various technically feasible, socially acceptable and financially viable water supply solutions, depending on the nature and level of brackishness and contamination in the worst affected areas of the province. Keeping in view the deteriorating situation of water quality, the unique feature of this program is that it is being executed on war footing with a participatory approach with the end users and other stakeholders.
Unlike the standard approach in executing development projects, the Punjab Saaf Pani Company - North has adopted an elaborate exercise of Evidence Based Need Assessment to ensure sustainability of water supply schemes. The assessment was conducted by a Technical Working Group constituted by the Punjab Saaf Pani Company - North to organize technical assistance and information support of various national and international agencies. The group consisted of UNICEF, WHO, World Bank Proactive Governance Program, Punjab Information Technology Board, the Urban Unit, a team of researchers from Lahore University of Management Sciences, Departments of Public Health Engineering, Health, Local Government & Community Development etc. Based on this exercise, a priority area mapping with multiple indexes of water quality, waterborne diseases, rural water supply coverage and poverty was developed.
Simultaneously, the PSPC - North is preparing a Master Plan for sustainable safe drinking water solutions for the rural, semi-rural and peri-urban population of the province in a comprehensive and integrated manner. This brings PSPC - North to the challenge of institutional redesigning of the entire water supply sector in rural and peri-urban areas, which are not covered by WASAs in metro cities, or by TMAs in small and medium-sized towns.
After a comprehensive planning process, the Punjab Saaf Pani Company - North has entered into the implementation phase starting with feasibility survey and identification for execution of schemes in the Bahawalpur Region that consists of district of Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Bahawalnagar and Lodhran. Along with selecting dysfunctional schemes for rehabilitation and up-gradation, construction of new water supply schemes, Filtration plants and other solutions have been proposed.
The physical work on the identified projects in four priority tehsils of Hasilpur, Lodhran, Khanpur and Minchanabad have been started. The execution period for water supply solutions in these regions is six-ten months and it is expected to deliver benefits from December 2015.
Punjab Saaf Pani Company - North has taken a professional approach to plan and execute technically sound and socially acceptable water supply solutions so that the schemes become functional on sustainable grounds. The process involves following steps: