Not very long ago people of Hunza Valley used to drink water from glacial streams without a second thought. They would not dare to do it today, even if there is shortage of drinkable water.
Glacial streams were the only source of water for the people of Hunza Valley years back. Then, they started using tapped water. The glacial streams were left unattended. The sense of sacredness attached to the water flowing in the streams faded away with passage of time. The streams gradually became polluted with filth from markets, hotels, households and restaurants.
Today, the whole of Central Hunza region is faced with shortage of drinking water, because the pipelines are not operational and the polluted glacial streams are unhygienic for the people to consume.
According to a government estimate, every year some three million Pakistanis fall ill after drinking polluted water, by getting diseases like Hepatitis, Diarrhea and Typhoid. Out of these, a million die, including some 250,000 children under five. In fact only a half of the population has access to clean drinking water.
Hunza claims to have 90 – 95% literate, but unfortunately even here the society is unable to keep the glacial streams clean. Instead of demanding filtration plants, secure water tanks and other “luxuries” from a non-responsive government, I would ask the people to keep the streams clean and consume the water that nature has bestowed our region with.
It is my firm belief that through effective management of the existing resources we can overcome the water crisis. Meanwhile, the government and other responsible organizations need to do more to reduce sufferings of the people.