Economic Survey: Twin cities’ water, air far from safe

Published: June 13, 2013

The MDGs envisage halving by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and to achieve significant improvement in access to sanitation. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

Amid the countless stats revealed by the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2012-2013 on Tuesday, residents of the twin cities were concerned most about neglected sectors such as environment.

The report revealed that the quality of drinking water supplied from Rawal Lake was severely contaminated. According to the survey, certain activities in areas of the lake that supply drinking water have led to unhygienic water being delivered to residents of Rawalpindi. The Supreme Court had taken a suo motu notice of the situation.

However, the report reveals that the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency with the help of the Capital Development Authority and the Islamabad Capital Territory administration had constructed septic tanks in Bari Imam to plug sewage waste flowing into the streams leading to Rawal Lake. Similarly, sewage treatment plants are also being constructed in catchment areas.

National Environment Quality Standards Directorate is also monitoring Rawal Lake and Bari Imam in this regard.

The capital’s residents were alarmed that the air in the sectors of I-9 and I-10 was polluted and nothing had been done to redress the issue. Industries located in the area are contributing towards polluting the  air.

According to the report, Pakistan is facing serious challenges of degradation and pollution of air, water and land. As a response, the government has launched a number of projects to improve the capacity of relevant institutions to deal with increasing environmental degradation.

In order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), it is important to ensure adequate level of social sector investments, particularly for environment, stated the report.

While the pace of human capital formation seems to be slightly better in urban areas, more resources need to be diverted towards the rural areas, especially for safe drinking water and access to sanitation, the report revealed further.

Forests

The report reveals that over 150,000 hectares of forestland, since converted to other uses, have reduced forest cover. With the population growth in the country, forests are under increasing pressure for watershed regulation and subsistence uses including firewood and grazing.

Water

The MDGs envisage halving by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and to achieve significant improvement in access to sanitation. This translates to increasing water supply and sanitation coverage to 93 per cent and 90 per cent respectively by 2015.

Air pollution

According to the survey, motorcycles and rickshaws are fast increasing, 138.6 per cent in 2011-12 when compared with 2001-02. Bricks kilns are another source of pollution in many areas. Use of low-grade coal and old tyres in bricks kilns generate dense black smoke (soot) and other dangerous emissions.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2013.

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