Four million threatened by contaminated water: Report
THATTA: The lives of nearly four million people of Thatta, Badin, Tando Mohammad Khan and the rural parts of Hyderabad districts were under threat due to the supply of highly contaminated water. These districts of lower Sindh get water through the irrigation system of left bank canal system of Kotri Barrage, including Phulelli Canal, Pinyari and Akram Wah.
This has been observed in a survey jointly carried out by UNDP-GEF-SGP, its partners BDRO Badin Development, Research Organization, and Javaher-al-Bukhari foundation.
‘Populace of these districts depends solely on the canal water for consumption as the underground sweet water was not available. The water of these canals was dangerous for health due to the dumping of highly toxic and hazardous waste at various points to the tail-end of the canals in Badin and Thatta districts,’ said Masood Lohar, while talking to Dawn here on Wednesday.
Citing the findings of survey Lohar said, nearly 20 to 25 tons of solid waste, from almost 60 per cent areas of Hyderabad city and its surroundings, was dumped into these canals daily. The solid waste included municipal/domestic waste, industrial waste, animal waste, combustible and non-combustible waste, hospital waste and other types of effluents.
Industrial waste was very dangerous for health; according to recent reports it accounts for fatal diseases among people. There were around two hundred big and small industrial units on the encroached banks of these canals and in the adjacent areas of Hyderabad city alone. The chemical waste from these units was thrown into the irrigation canals without any check by the concerned quarters.
Report further said, the waste water of different localities of Hyderabad city – having no other alternative for drainage – was dropped into these canals through 36 big and hundreds of small inlets.
Mohammad Khan Samoon, an environmentalist said, the situation always compounds in the Rabi season when only small quantity of fresh water is released, while the flow of the sewage remains the same in canals. The details gathered by the survey team revealed that around 1.5 million gallons of gutter water was released into the canals daily.
Lohar emphasized, that the Sindh government should immediately constitute a task force to ensure implementation National Environmental Quality Standards (NEQS), adding that without proper measures thousands of human lives are exposed to several deadly diseases.
Over the years, Pakistan’s population has seen a tremendous increase. In the census of 1951 the population was 33.7 million, which has now risen up to 150 million. In 1951, per capita water availability was 5,269 cubic feet which has come down to 1,126.
Beyond the impact of population growth itself, the demand for fresh water has been rising in response to industrial development, increased reliance on irrigated agriculture, massive urbanization, and rising living standards.
With growing issues of water scarcity, distribution inequalities, water pollution, loss of ecosystems and the generation of effluents, Pakistan was categorized as a country under water stress.
These are tremendous challenges that need a sane and de-politicized response. The whole water debate, therefore, has to be rephrased in a radically different way to help people move away from entrenched, interest based positions on particular infrastructure development schemes, and towards more rational, integrated and practical approaches covering the whole water sector.
In fact, considering the global and national water scenario, the time has come to take a clear and principled stand to stop the systematic devastation of the water systems.The report warned of epidemics in the lower part of Sindh if necessary measures were not taken to tackle this sensitive issue and advised the functionaries of district government Hyderabad, Thatta, Badin, Tando Mohammed Khan to either install treatment plants for purifying toxic water or to dig out drains parallel to these canals to carry away the sewage and other pollutants.