ISLAMABAD-Prime Minister Imran Khan has approved multi-billion rupees Ghazi-Barotha Water Supply Scheme to cater for the pressing need of the residents of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, sources said.

According to sources, Prime Minister has given go ahead to the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) Rawalpindi to launch the project conceived in 2006 and had been put in cold storage by the previous governments. The mega water project costing more than Rs80 billion will be funded by the federal and Punjab governments. The Council of Common of Interest (CCI), the supreme decision-making body, had already approved the water supply scheme for twin cities from River Indus.

A summary was sent to the Prime Minister for his nod after the CDA and Water and Sanitation Agency had approved PC-1 of the project that would eventually provide 600 million gallons per day of drinking water to Islamabad and Rawalpindi. UK-based engineering company Mott MacDonald has prepared feasibility of the project.

The project spreading over 3 phases envisages a 45-kilometre-long, 80-inch-wide water pipeline from the Tarbela dam at Ghazi Barotha to a water treatment plant at Sangjiani for onward distribution.

In the first phase, the twin cities will be provided with 200 million gallons of water a day out of which 150 million gallons per day for Islamabad and 50 MGDs each for Rawalpindi city and cantonment area.

Former Finance Minister and PTI’s two times elected MNA from Islamabad Asad Umar told The Nation that Ghazi-Barotha was the most viable long-term option to meet the water needs of the twin cities. He blamed Mayor Islamabad and the previous governments for their apathy to address the issue, adding that Prime Minister Imran Khan had fulfilled the promise he had made with the people of Islamabad.

The PTI-led government deems the project essential in view of the fast-growing population in the capital which more than doubled over the past 20 years, from just over 805,235 in 1999 to over 2.07 million in 2017. So is the case in Rawalpindi city which has also seen increase in its population.

Currently, residents of twin cities besides tube wells and domestic water bores are largely dependent on water from Simly dam, Rawal Dam and Khanpur dam.

However, fast depletion of ground water level has rendered the tube wells and domestic water bores ineffective. While rapid siltation of Rawal Dam and Khanpur Dam has substantially reduced their water storage capacity over period of time.

The project had been conceived in 2006 when former military ruler Gen (R) Pervez Musharraf was still at the helm. It was estimated to cost around Rs17 billion and work on the project was scheduled to start in March 2009 and it was supposed to have been completed in five years by 2013.

However, the cost of the project has phenomenally increased since then to more than Rs.80 billion.