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Filthy water puts KU students at risk

KARACHI, Aug 20: Probably S.T. Coleridge had foreseen the water problem of Karachi University when he wrote the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner. The water supply system of the University of Karachi is as messed up as that of the entire city.

Apart from the university's algae-infested water tank, which has not been cleaned for years, the deteriorated condition of water pipes speaks volumes of the official carelessness. The supply of contaminated water put the health of around 24,000 enrolled students and 600 to 700 university teachers at risk.

The main line that supplies water to the university has been dug up at many places near Maskan, PCSIR labs and Sheraton Flats to let the air pass through it though it also allows foreign elements which causes contamination. The university laboratory had recently tested the water and submitted its report to the administration. Though KU administration paints a rosy picture of it, lab sources disclosed that the water samples were found hazardous for health.

"It is as bad as that of the rest of the city. Though I can't reveal much as the report is confidential, I can tell you that it shouldn't be consumed without being filtered and boiled," an official said on condition of anonymity.

The water tank seemed to be haven for insects and animals while the pipes were all covered with rust and wild shrubs grew crazily about the place when the scribe inspected them. The head of the pumping system, Rasheed Alam, puts all the blame on Karachi Water and Sewerage Board. He said: "We supply water the way we get it from the KWSB. The tank from which they supply water has at times dead animals in it as well".

He said the tank hadn't been cleaned for the last three years. Besides, he said the badly corroded pipes were one of the main reasons for water contamination. "The six-inch-diameter pipe has so much of rust that it only allows water that a two-inch-diameter pipe can supply," he added.

He simply denied if there was any filth except for the insects in the tank but said that there had been a few instances when they had actually found polythene bags in the pipelines. The university engineer, who looks after the maintenance of the waterlines, never replied to the phone calls made to have a better insight into the situation.

Though filters have been installed at some of the departments, teachers prefer not to drink water from it and bring boiled water from their homes.

"We know the condition of the tank and we can't risk our lives just to experiment whether we survive after drinking water from here," says one of the teachers. However, those residing on the campus complain about the negligence of the staff and indifferent attitude of the administration. Mostly students are unaware of the whole scenario as they merrily take a dose of the bacteria and germs to quench their thirst. Dawn
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