CDA report on Rawal Lake contamination fails to impress EPA


An inspection report on Rawal Lake contamination issue produced by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has failed to satisfy the Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (EPA), which can cause more delay in the installment of treatment plants in catchment areas to stop the increasing level of lake pollution. The CDA planned to install treatment plants in the catchment areas to treat sewage water contaminating the Rawal Lake after the Supreme Court had taken a sou moto notice of the case last year. However, due to some ownership complications, the CDA took several months to complete its report. Meanwhile, the EPA has also called an emergency meeting with the CDA and ICT to look into the matter.
EPA Director General Asif Shujah told Pakistan Today that the CDA was not serious in tackling the lake contamination issue citing the delay in completion of a survey that he said could have taken only 15 days. “We have called the CDA and ICT officials to a meeting being held in coming week belayed the CDA’s progress is very slow. After this report they have to prepare another report of methodology to conduct this project. Then they have to go through the auction of the project and its budgeting. I fear they have planned to install the treatment plans in years,” he lamented.
He said the CDA’s inspection report had missed some very important things which would be discussed in the upcoming meeting. Presently, the pollution level of the lake is low because of recent heavy rains but with the end of the rainy season it can shoot up manifold, Shuja feared. CDA Environment Director Sajjad Ali Shah, when contacted, said the authority had taken several steps to contain the lake contamination such as construction of separate tanks and instructing residents to build their in-house tanks. He said the CDA had formed local committees to curb dumping of solid waste in those tanks.
Last year, the Supreme Court of Pakistan took a sou moto notice of the Rawal Lake contamination issue and ordered the CDA, EPA and other departments concerned to take immediate measures to stopping sewage water flow into the Rawal Lake. The lake has been constructed on Kurrang River and has a catchment area of 106 sq miles, which generates 84,000 acre feet of water in an average rainfall year. There are four major streams and 43 small streams contributing to its storage and also major source of its contamination.
All the waste material and sewage water coming in drains from the villages near the lake such as Bhara Kahu, Malpur, Bani Gala and Noorpur Shahan are continuously contaminating the lake. The waste also includes untreated sewerage and solid waste and there are approximately 170 poultry farms with about 360 poultry sheds situated in the lake’s catchment areas. Meanwhile, the picnickers and visitors are also a source of contamination as recreational spots Chattar and Salgran parks are situated near the lake. Asif Shujah said they had asked the Punjab government to take notice of the issue since some of the areas fell under its jurisdiction such as Murree. He said that after the devolution, EPA could no longer monitor the environmental issues of the entire country.