EPA silent as housing schemes dispose untreated sewage water into water bodies


LAHORE: A large number of housing schemes located in the provincial capital are disposing their untreated sewage water into the water bodies while the Punjab Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is silent over this issue, Pakistan Today has learnt.

Currently in Lahore, there are at least 60 housing societies that are approved by the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) while several other societies and schemes have been developed in violation of the LDA rules.

The Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) is providing water facilities to a large number of citizens through its 560 tube-wells installed in different societies and localities approved by the LDA. However, the score of LDA approved and unapproved housing societies and schemes have their own mechanism to provide water and sanitation facilities to their residents.

Sources in the EPA told that not even a single housing scheme either approved or not by the LDA, was disposing its untreated sewage water into the drains. They revealed that the EPA never monitored if the housing schemes were complying with the condition of installing wastewater treatment plant mentioned in the no objection certificate (NOC).

Currently, around 3200 cusecs municipal and around 300 cusecs industrial effluent carrying a dangerous cargo of infectious bacteria, viruses and parasites taking a severe toll on human, animal and aquatic life health was being added to the river Ravi, sources added.

“The animals consuming the polluted water are getting physiological disorders that are transmittable to the human bodies and can cause unimaginable damages,” they said while referring to a study that milk being consumed by the humans is causing cancer and other disorders besides numerous skin diseases in humans.

According to the EPA guidelines, municipal and industrial effluents must be treated before being disposed into water bodies. It has been observed that the agency has been reluctant to monitor its guidelines and to implement the 3R formula i.e reduce, reuse and recycle. Moreover, it has also failed to implement the national sanitation policy according to which minimum sewage treatment facilities are to be of biological treatment and the retention time is to be calculated so that the effluent produced keeps with the PEQS notified under PEPA 1997. According to the policy, samples collection points are also to be established in the sewage system and the effluent be tested before being released into the lakes, rivers and other water bodies. The policy also states that the violators are to be penalised.

An official speaking on the condition of anonymity, told this correspondent that it has been made mandatory for the EPA to ensure the enforcement of NEQS under the Punjab Environmental Protection Act 1997 which was the responsibility of the EPA’s laboratory section.

“The laboratory section has been delegated with the powers to take action against any violator of the environmental act under the section 11 of the PEPA Act 1997,” he said.

EPA spokesperson Naseemur Rehman while talking to Pakistan Today said that the department had been issuing notices to housing schemes for disposing of their wastewater untreated. He said that the department was all set to take a stern action against those polluting water in the province.