Why the Clean Drinking Water Project Is Going Nowhere in Pakistan’s Punjab

Nearly 20 years since the problem of poisonous water first surfaced in the some villages of the province, they still do not have a functional water filtration plant.
Earlier this year, Nasir Iqbal, a senior officer of the Punjab Housing, Urban Development and Public Health Engineering Department in Kasur district – to which Kulalanwala and Kot Asadullah belong – visited the two villages and told locals that the provincial government’s Khadim-e-Punjab Saaf Pani (clean water) Programme would soon set up a water filtration plant for them, using the most advanced technology.
Sometimes their water supply arrives from as far as Lahore.
By the time KSB started working on the project, its entire technical and financial design had changed.
Punjab Saaf Pani Company issued an advertisement on April 1, 2015 to invite foreign and local companies to bid for the next phase of the project to be carried out in 17 tehsils across Punjab.
The chairman of the Planning and Development Department informed the meeting that Sinohydro Corporation Limited, a Chinese company working on a number of water sector projects in Pakistan, has been “briefed” on the Punjab Saaf Pani Company “and the contracts being offered” for setting up clean drinking water supply schemes in Pattoki tehsil.
He directed Punjab Saaf Pani Company to “ensure that no substandard company” is shortlisted for the bidding process.
The process of shortlisting the firms that qualified for bidding was not complete even by July 23, 2016 when the provincial chief secretary told the participants that 64 international companies had submitted the bids.
By August 23, 2016, Shehbaz Sharif was having second thoughts about the entire operation of Punjab Saaf Pani Company.
More than 30 months have passed since the process began for inviting and shortlisting companies to take part in the construction of clean drinking water supply schemes.

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