YAHYA AL SALMANI –
Locals in the Wilayat of Qurayat, 90 km from Muscat, are pleased with the new desalination plant that provides them with fresh drinking water. It delivers 44 MIGD (200,000 m3/day) of water through seawater reverse osmosis process – a new technology.
However, residents living on the western side of the Wilayat of Qurayat are upset the new plant does not meet their water requirements.
Saud bin Sulaiman al Humaidi, a resident of Al Habubiyah village, said many places such as Al Habubiyah, Haifadh, Al Fayyad, Al Tarif and Midawah do not benefit from this essential service.
An official source working for the Public Authority of Electricity and Water, who does not wish to be named, said: “The government has compensated the people of these villages via daily drinking water services through contracted water supply companies.”
The source also said the “development budget is insufficient” to include the western areas of Qurayat.
Locals, however, are not convinced. It is obvious the western parts are completely dry. While locals are relying farming and agriculture, they are also struggling to get fresh water from the natural sources – aflaj and artesian wells.
They have filed a complaint with the office of Wali of Qurayat and communicated directly to Ash’shura and municipality members.
“The issue has been on the official table for a long time. Locals have not received any official response so far,” said Al Humaidi.
The main reason for filing the complaint: the contracted companies are not providing water in a timely manner.
Residents are worried about the use of water for fear of depletion of water resources. Fresh water is currently distributed according to the number of members in each household. This has forced many to leave the western parts of Qurayat and move to nearby areas such as Al Amerat, Ruwi and other parts of Muscat Governorate.
“A majority of the people have left these villages in search of a better life,” said one of the affected villagers.
“While the government calls for developing the agricultural sector, the authorities are ignoring the primary factor for this development. Everyone is aware there is no agricultural development without adequate source of water,” said Al Humaidi.
According to him, the problem becomes acute during social events and holidays. “People feel embarrassed to host guests.”
The residents, he said, have been buying several types of local products such as dates and mangoes from local markets as their farms have dried up.
They said the main pipeline of the project traverses the eastern side to supply water from Qurayat to reach Al Amerat, while “their villages are ignored”.
In order to ensure they benefit from the project, residents suggest establishing a water station near these areas.
Others suggested activation of the ‘artificial rain project’, which is located at Jabal al Aswad (the Black Mountain). They feel it might resolve their problems at a minimum cost.