Service stations continue using water with impunity

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–WASA, others concerned possess no records that show total quantity of water used by service stations

LAHORE: Amid the looming ghost of water scarcity, hundreds of vehicle service stations in the provincial capital are going unchecked as no authorities concerned possess complete records of these stations or data that shows the quantity of water used by them, Pakistan Today has learnt.

Several government, as well as non-government agencies, have warned that the country might run dry in the coming future if concrete steps are not taken to prevent wastage of water; however, authorities concerned, at the same time, seem to be least bothered in this regard.

As per the details, there are hundreds of service stations operating in Lahore but the Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) only has records of less than 150 stations. Moreover, so far no authority has maintained any data that shows how much water is being used to wash a vehicle while dozens are being cleaned at different service stations on a daily basis.

During a court hearing pertaining to wastage of water in Lahore at service stations, an expert on September 18 informed the Lahore High Court (LHC) that a car service station used an average of 200 litres for washing a small vehicle and 300 litres for a big one. The court was also informed that automatic carwash stations consumed around 80 litres per car, adding that water recycling systems should be installed at car service stations to save clean water.

No record was produced by any authority which showed how many automatic carwash service stations had been set up in the city though. According to WASA officials, the authority is abstracting water from the ground with the ration of over 70 gallons per person per day through around 600 tube wells that are installed in different areas of the provincial capital.

However, no authority, including WASA, can share the exact number of service stations other than those that have been approved by WASA. A mechanism to monitor the quantity of water being used by the service stations is also not in place.

Talking to Pakistan Today, WASA spokesperson Imtiaz Ghauri said that the authority was only responsible to monitor the service stations using water from WASA. To a question, he said that no law compelled WASA to take an action against other service stations.

The petitioner of the case, Advocate Siddique Azhar, on the other hand, told this scribe that WASA was the only regulatory body that kept a check on the abstraction of water within the jurisdiction of the Lahore Development Authority (LDA).

“There are hundreds of service stations running in LDA controlled areas which have not been approved by WASA. The authority being the prime regulator was responsible to monitor water abstraction of these stations,” he said and maintained that the service stations running out of LDA jurisdiction areas were the responsibility of town and district governments that too had failed to keep a check on them.

“This illegal abstraction shows that the authorities are responsible for the looming water scarcity crisis,” he added. Siddique also said that now that a water policy had been formed, there was a dire need to establish an independent authority through legislation to monitor water usage.