Dead fish in a lake suggest pollution or poisoning, both of which are a red flag for municipal authorities if the same lake is being used to supply water for drinking purposes. The appearance of dead fish in the Rawal Lake, which supplies water to Rawalpindi, is source for concern as this suggests that the water is no more fit for human consumption. In the same manner that a canary is used in mines to monitor air quality, fish are an important to monitor drinking water quality. Dead fish are a clear indicator that the water is poisonous and its supply should be discontinued.
We are told that the poison in the lake was introduced by those who were not allowed to fish here after the fishing rights were given to one contractor. If this is the case, the police should make inquiries and nab the culprits to set an example. Tampering with the water supply of any city is a serious offence and the message needs to be given to anyone who tries to poison public water supplies will be given exemplary punishment. Merely launching a probe by the local police is not enough. Those who indulged in this activity have to be arrested.
The role of the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) also needs to be questioned. Within a day of the dead fish appearing, WASA claimed that the water was fit for drinking. It was the police that went for examination of water samples while WASA remained adamant that the water was fit for human consumption, possibly to cover up it own shortcomings. The absolute lack of ownership by public bodies is also part of the problem. It is time that the government stepped in and took some important decisions. Apart from nabbing the culprits and giving them exemplary punishment, the government should also ensure that such a incident is not repeated. For this, fool proof measured need to be taken to safeguard water supplies. A strategy for this has to be formed and implemented as soon as possible.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2017.
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