Reminiscing the Bara River water of olden times
By Afzal Hussain Bokhari
For some parts of Hayatabad, the availability of hygienically clean drinking water continues to be a distant dream. They regularly pay their water bills, but the water supplied to them by the Peshawar Development Authority (PDA) is fit only for washing the clothes. The residents of Phase Three and Phase Four have complained that for the last several months, they have been getting dirty and unclean water. During the monsoon months, we have plenty of rain. The viruses and bacteria hanging in the air can mix up in rainwater. They can enter our body systems and make us ill. Diseases like cholera, typhoid and gastroenteritis have already broken out. Under these circumstances, supplying unclean water to the general public is like rubbing salt into its wounds. The ageing underground water supply pipes and the drainage pipes have got badly rusted. At some places, the pipes have begun to leak. The result is that water from both pipes gets mixed up. People with large families cannot afford to buy expensive bottled water from the branded international companies like Nestle and Aquafina. Therefore, they are forced to consume whatever is supplied into their kitchens through the PDA water-taps. Out of all Hayatabad areas, Phase One was the first to have been developed. Similarly, Phase Seven is the latest to undergo the same process. The Town Planning engineers wanted that the mistakes made in Phase One should not be repeated in the other six phases. For example, in Phase One the electricity supply wires were on open-air poles. On the other hand, these wires are hidden underground in Phase Six. There used to be a time, when the people thought that the water of River Bara was very wholesome and full of valuable minerals, washed down from mountains by heavy rains. Shops selling ‘chapli’ kebab used to put a huge earthen ‘matka’ (container) with an ordinary aluminum glass or ‘katora’ attached to it with a chain. Pakhtun families travelling to Karachi by the Awami Express Train used to keep underneath their seats the cans of water from the Bara River. With their homemade meals, as well as with the ‘roti-pakora’ deals struck on the railway platform stalls, they drank the can water with joy. The ideas of viruses and bacteria never crossed their minds. Right from the time the train steamed out of the Peshawar Cantonment railway station, up to the time it roared into the Karachi Cantonment station, the journey was excellent. From the octogenarian grandfather to the newborn baby, nobody felt sick or unwell. * * * In a separate development, the death occurred of Justice (Retd) Riaz Ahmad Khan with coronavirus on August 21. At the time of his death, he was 69 years of age. He was the former Chief Justice of the Federal Shariat Court and the first Justice of the Islamabad High Court. The death has made it clear once again that there has not been any letup in the brutality of the Covid-19 pandemic. It continues to play havoc with human lives, regardless of their VIP status. Justice (Retd) Riaz had been receiving medical treatment for three weeks in various hospitals. He was born on the fifth of May 1952 into the home of Haji Abdur Rasheed of Nowshera Kalan. He did his matriculation in 1968 and BA in 1973. In 1975, he did his Master’s in Political Science from the University of Peshawar. He served as a lecturer in the Islamia College, Peshawar. He passed his LLB examination from Punjab University in Lahore. He remained posted as civil judge in Kohat, Haripur and Peshawar. It was in Dera Ismail Khan that he got posted as senior civil judge. On the seventh of March 1915, he was posted as the Chief Justice of the Federal Shariat Court. He retired on May 12, 1917. He was laid to rest in the ancestral graveyard in his native Nowshera Kalan. Apart from the prominent local social figures and lawyers, his funeral prayers were attended by several judges including the Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court, Justice Athar Minallah. The top civil and military officers were also in attendance. He is survived by two widows, three sons and three daughters.