Drinking water crisis grows as supply lines freeze

File Pic: Mubashir Khan/GK

The subzero temperatures in Kashmir have resulted in severe water crises due to freeing of supply lines.

Amid the extreme cold, various water bodies including parts of the Dal lake have frozen. Due to minus temperatures the drinking water sources, tanks, reservoirs, and supply lines of PHE in scores of areas have also frozen.

Scores of people from across Srinagar and other districts of Kashmir said that the water crisis has taken a heavy toll on them. The locals in many Srinagar localities told Greater Kashmir that for past three to four days the water scarcity has grown given the record subzero temperatures.

“Even as we are using different methods to defreeze our household water lines, but the outside water lines are choked. Authorities should make potable water available to help people overcome the water scarcity,” Zahid Ali from Harwan locality said.

“You can see the pictures of people walking miles, drinking contaminated water, amid snow. If such is the situation in Srinagar, one can image the plight of those living in remote areas,” he said.

The officials at the PHE department however said that the “water crisis is not widespread”.   “The department is taking enough steps to address the issue,” they said.

“We are also pressing men and machinery into service so that the problem is overcome. Our teams are taking stock of the situation and pressing resources accordingly,” a senior official said.

Greater Kashmir received calls from many Srinagar localities including Soura Harwan, and Hazratbal about the problem.

People from many Baramulla areas said that the waterlines are frozen for past many days. They said the situation is creating huge problems for elderly, children and patients.

Chief Engineer PHE, Iftikhar Ahmed Wani said that although the water supply has been hampered due to freezing temperature, “there is not any major crisis in the availability of potable water in Kashmir”.

He said the department has made a three-step strategy to tide over the problems arisen due to freezing of water lines.

“As per our three pronged strategy, the areas where there is ample sunshine after noon and lines defreeze on their own, we have changed the water supply hours accordingly. At those places where there is round the clock freezing of lines we are pressing our men with blow lamps to manually defreeze the lines and in the areas where these strategies fail, we are sending water tankers.”

The lines are freezing inside households which is causing problems, in such cases people need to use different steps including insulating the lines which are prone to freezing, Wani said, adding that the problem will continue for next 10 to 15 days and the department will take all the necessary steps.

Every year, during subzero temperature in the harsh winter period of chilai-kalaan, potable water lines freeze causing a huge water crisis in Kashmir. This year the subzero temperature has broken the three decade record leading to many problems in Kashmir including growing water scarcity.