A commission set up by the Lahore High Court to look into the growing pollution of the River Ravi has come up with a plan to save the waterway. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has suggested measures that could be implemented to clean up the river and prevent its further pollution. A conservationist for the organisation presented detailed findings on this at a meeting of the Ravi River Commission. The secretary of the body, a well-known environmental lawyer, told the commission that at the moment the only mechanism that existed to control effluent dumping into the rivers was through self-monitoring. However, right now, only 20 of the 65,000 industries in Punjab are evaluating the waste material they produce and how they dispose it off.
The commission has suggested that the Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) should be made responsible for setting up plants to ensure that untreated sewage and effluent does not reach the river. However, WASA officials have cited a lack of funds to carry out such an activity. In fact, the issue of availability of resources to save the river was a major talking point at this meeting. It has to be understood that finding these funds must be made a priority. The issue is not a peripheral one. It has an impact on the lives of the people living close to the river and on the millions who are dependent on the waterway. Fishing has almost ended in its murky waters. At present, a shocking 48 per cent of the pollution in the Indus comes from the Ravi, despite its small size.
Sensibly enough, the commission has studied examples of other nations, including India, where a lobby comprising environmentalists and orthodox Hindus has been established to demand a clean-up of the Ganges that is currently rated as the dirtiest river in the world. In the past, attempts to improve the situation vis-a-vis the Ganges have failed. We must ensure that this does not become true for the Ravi as well, given the implications on health and livelihood involved.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2012.
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