River Ravi pollution: Hazardous

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Lahore: River of Lahore Ravi is under environmental threat due to contamination of its water as a World Wild Fund’s report says the water of river Ravi is contaminated to a level that it cannot be used for any recreational activities like watering crops or animal drinking as it will affect the health of citizens of Lahore.

The government claims that actions are being taken in this regard, but the literary camp believes all commissions and reports are ignored and this issue is increasing with every passing year.

The waters of Ravi are allocated to India under the Indus Water Treaty 1960 which was signed by General Ayub Khan and Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in Karachi.

Prof. Dr. Munawar Sabir while talking to News lens Pakistan said, “After the treaty historical river Ravi has been converted into a stream. A discharge of untreated industrial and domestic waste has polluted Ravi making it a major source of underground water pollution which is affecting health of citizens, animals and contributing to environmental pollution.”

A meeting of World Wide Fund (WWF) Pakistan was held in Lahore on 15th April 2015. Director General WWF Pakistan Hammad Naqi while talking to News Lens Pakistan said,” Potential impact of climate change and polluted water must be discussed with all stakeholders to address this really critical matter. Strong steps are badly needed by the government to prevent waste dumping in Ravi.”

Director WWF Muhammad Abubakar tells News Lens Pakistan, “The entire municipal waste of the city is going through fourteen drains untreated causing great damage to waters of Ravi. Hundreds of industrial units are throwing their contaminated waste to river Ravi that makes the situation even worse. These units include chemical, food, plastic, poultry, paper, textile, leather, pesticides, paint, pharmaceuticals and many more”.

Prof. Dr. Mubarik Mehdi tells News Lens Pakistan, “Farmers are using this polluted water for irrigation and milkmen give this water to their animals creating severe health problems.”

“Typhoid, dysentery, cholera and hepatitis are water related diseases. According to World Health Organization, all five types of hepatitis are present in Pakistan. Hepatitis A and C are directly related to poor water and sewage system. The combined ratio of hepatitis B and C in Pakistan is 7.6 percent”, he added while talking to News Lens Pakistan.

Water expert Dr. Aijaz Ahmed tells News Lens Pakistan,” Recent report of WWF shows that as per WHO standards, water of river Ravi carries high metal contents and arsenic level putting life at great risk when mixed with underground water and sewage systems. Fecal coliform injurious to human health is also found in drinking water.”

In 2012, a commission set by Lahore High Court came up with the findings about polluted river Ravi: More than 1200 to 1400 small and big industrial units are dumping their chemical and medical waste to river Ravi. Commission recommended putting heavy fines on such factories and building a bioremediation plant at Babu Sabu as a pilot project to clean contaminated water.

Secretary General of Lahore Bachao Tehreek Imrana Tiwana tells News Lens Pakistan, “Establishing plant is not the solution to this problem. I clearly mentioned this during the working of commission but, unfortunately, the real issues were not addressed in that commission. The discharge of waste in river Ravi is the major issue and must be dealt with firm action. We can see that nothing happened even after the commission’s report.”

Punjab Minister for Environment Col (Retd) Shuja Khanzada while talking to News Lens Pakistan defended government actions taken against industrial units that are involved in throwing their waste in River Ravi, “Environment Protection Department is very effective and mobilized against it and government is also working on a funded program given by European Union to clean water of Lahore. Good results will come soon in this regard.”

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