Rawalpindi’s Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) on Monday refused to share the cost of a waste treatment plant proposed by the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (PAK-EPA) which is to be constructed by the Islamabad District Administration. The plant will be located in Shahdara near Bhara Kahu and is meant to check solid waste flowing into Rawal Lake, which is Rawalpindi’s primary water reservoir.
In its response to a detailed letter along with copy of PC-I for the Rs375 million treatment plant, WASA said that as the water flows in from areas falling in the federal capital territory, WASA had nothing to do with its operations or management cost.
This was revealed in a meeting at the office of Rawalpindi district coordination officer (DCO) to review efforts and steps taken to check the inflow of waste into the artificial fresh water lake. The administration has to respond to a Supreme Court notice on January 30 regarding the suo motu case on pollution in Rawal Lake.
The meeting was attended by representatives of the Punjab Small Dams Organisation — which manages Rawal Dam — WASA, district officer (DO) environment, representatives of the Murree Town Municipal Administration, and DCO Saqib Zaffar.
A WASA official seeking anonymity said that on January 7 they received a copy of PC-I for the treatment plant prepared by Pak-EPA and forwarded it to the ICT for implementation.
According to the PC-I, around 34 per cent of the cost of construction would be shared by the Rawalpindi district government and WASA. Around one-third of the inflow of waste polluting Rawal Lake comes from the hilly areas of Murree, while the rest is generated from Islamabad.
WASA authorities replied that according to the understanding, they would share the cost of the treatment plant that would be built to clean water coming from Murree areas.
“The cost of the treatment plant at Shahdara has nothing to do with WASA as the areas are not controlled by the Rawalpindi administration,” the official said.
DCO Saqib Zaffar confirmed that the ICT wanted to get a share from Rawalpindi for the construction of the waste treatment plant. He said that under the proposal, four plants were to be constructed to treat water flowing into Rawal Lake and Rawalpindi had to bear 34 per cent of the cost of the project.
The DCO said they could bear the cost of the plant treating the water coming from Murree areas, but the city government has nothing to do with the rest of the polluted water, which comes from parts of Islamabad.
There are 105 cases, mostly involving poultry farms and housing societies polluting the water flowing into the dam. The meeting was informed that the Punjab Environment Tribunal (PET) has issued non-bailable warrants for nine polluters falling in the catchments of Rawal Lake, bailable warrants for 19 and notices to other polluters.
The meeting was told that demarcation of the dam area had been carried out to make it clear which areas fell in Islamabad and in Rawalpindi.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2013.