Only two steams cleaned so far
CDA unsuccessful in planning a pollution control strategy effectively
Water polluted by the disposal of household garbage, municipal and industrial waste and cow dung by residents of shanty housing areas.
Due to the unconcerned attitude of capital city developers, the vital project to clean-up streams, started by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) years ago has hit great obstacles.
The Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has also turned a blind eye towards this serious matter instead of taking the necessary measures to keep the project on track, Pakistan Today has learnt.
An official from the CDA seeking anonymity said, “Almost two years ago the CDA formed a task-force on ‘cleaning-up streams’ project to clear the polluted streams but the project was dumped in the files only after the cleaning of two streams near sector E-11 of the capital city.”
“The project was aimed at cleaning the polluted streams to restore the flora and fauna and the general biodiversity of the federal capital. The project also focuses on the identification of major natural and man-made point and non-point sources of pollution in the natural streams of Islamabad,” he said.
“CDA was supposed to develop a restoration and pollution control strategy that would act as a guideline in preparing an action plan for improved wastewater management to protect the quality of drinking water”, the official added. He however, admitted that some cosmetic measures have been taken to rectify the problem but nothing significant has been done to resolve the issue on a permanent basis.
It was learnt that the task-force includes people from the CDA building control cell, roads department, director maintenance, environment protection cell and the sanitation department. The building control cell was responsible for removing illegal connections of waste disposal dumped by the residents while the maintenance department was assigned the duty to maintain all broken sewerage lines. The sanitation department was mobilized to collect all the solid waste dumped in these streams.
An official from the EPA said that almost three years ago the EPA conducted a survey of those streams and collected water samples from them and the results proved that all streams in Islamabad were heavily polluted, but the EPA did not issue even a legal notice to the CDA. Now after three years these polluted streams have been forgotten and there is no plan to conduct any surveys again or to chalk out any strategies to clean the streams.
While describing the reasons for the degradation of the streams, he said that the reasons were multifarious and inter-linked, which included disposing different pollutants into these water channels, such as everyday household garbage, municipal and industrial waste and cow dung by the residents of various shanty housing areas.
He said, “The release of solid waste from industrial units and local hospitals into these water channels is of particular concern as it causes a number of diseases.
More than thirty industrial units in the Capital are releasing various pollutants into these streams, creating serious environmental hazards and destroying aquatic life. Equally responsible are the routine bureaucratic snags, and lack of co- operation and coordination among different government agencies”.
An environmentalist and water pollution expert Arshad Abbasi said that not long ago, the centuries-old waterways in Islamabad not only provided fresh water to the local residents, but were also known for their recreational value as both rich and poor used to arrange fishing and picnic parties alongside those streams. “However, these streams have lately become so polluted and filthy that these are now a source of various diseases,” he said.
“The pollution of streams had caused serious environmental problems. Efforts should be made to check the pollutants entering the streams and initiate measures for the removal of pollutants that have already entered the water,” he said.
“It’s not about the non-availability of sufficient resources, but the effective usage of available ones. We have to have a proper drainage and sewerage system which can ensure the smooth flow of floodwater and waste to the specified places. The citizens should also be reminded of their responsibilities. They should avoid throwing household waste into the streams,” he said.
Only two steams cleaned so far