At Keenjhar Lake, industrial waste wreaking havoc

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Karachi   Industrial waste flowing untreated in Keenjhar Lake – the main water source of Karachi – will make the water even more poisonous and unsuitable for consumption within a few years. 


Misbahuddin Farid, the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) managing director, said this on Tuesday during a visit to Loyach Nadi at Nooriabad and Kalri Baghar (KB) Feeder (Upper) Canal at Kotri with the media.


The contaminated water is already spreading skin and abdominal diseases and will soon start claiming valuable human lives in Sindh if the situation remains the same, he said. The untreated industrial waste settles at the bottom of the lake, from which almost the entire population of Karachi and half of Thatta drinks the water.


The World Health Organisation has set the limit of 500 parts per million (ppm) of total dissolved solids (TDS) in drinking water.


But Ali Muhammad Palijo, the Bulk Water Supply engineer, said that water in Loyach Nadi had over 2,000ppm TDS, which affected around 30,000 people living in the nearby villages.


The TDS at Keenjhar Lake has been detected between 500ppm and 550ppm while the upper feeder has 560ppm to 580ppm. With TDS around 3,000ppm at Manchar Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Pakistan, the water supply has already been stopped to Karachi.


The KWSB managing director said the water at KB Feeder (Upper) was severely polluted as untreated industrial waste had been flowing unchecked into the feeder for the past 12 to 15 years.


The feeder is the major source of water for Karachi from River Indus as water from this canal falls into the Kenjhar Lake throughout the year. Water from Loyach Nadi only falls in the lake during the monsoon season. “But the situation at Loyach Nadi is worse than the feeder,” Farid added.


Despite repeated requests by the water utility to stop contaminated water from Kotri and Nooriabad industries, no action has been taken by the authorities. The KWSB chief blamed the departments of irrigation and industries and the environment protection agencies for the alarming situation.


“All industrial units should have proper treatment plants and must discharge their waste after properly treating it according to international standards,” he said. “The contaminated water from Keenjhar has put the lives of more than 20 million citizens of Karachi in danger.”


Besides the human population, the biodiversity at the lake is also under dire threat owing to the untreated industrial waste. “Industries do not have treatment plants in open violation of the Supreme Court orders,” Farid added. “Short- and long-term policies must be formulated since the waste poses a serious threat not only to humans but to the marine life as well.”


He even recommended measures to stop the flow of contaminated water in the lake. “The issue has been discussed with the commissioners of Karachi and Hyderabad but no real action has been taken yet,” he said.


The Hyderabad commissioner had directed to close iron gates of the feeder canal to stop the untreated industrial wastage but the area residents usually open the gates as contaminated water enters their houses.


Abdul Qadir Palari, general secretary of Keenjhar Conservation Network, stated that more than 50,000 fishermen were jobless owing to the polluted water at the lake. He appealed to the chief justice to take suo moto notice of the situation.


The purpose of the visit was to create awareness among the masses, government officials and not-for-profit organisations working in the health and environment sectors. “I personally believe that the real picture has not been presented before the Sindh governor or the chief minister. Otherwise, they would have directed the authorities to resolve the matter on emergency basis,” Farid said.

Courtesy:  The News

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