KARACHI: A recent oil spill reported in the media during the third day of Eidul Azha has now been rediscovered as a sewage intrusion into seawater due to the unclogging of a drain after the heavy rainfalls. Waste intrusion in fresh water resources is a common problem in Pakistan. Rivers and lakes flowing through densely-populated rural areas not only serve the water needs for consumption but are also used for waste disposal due to lack of sanitation facilities. Chemical and industrial waste containing toxic elements are also disposed into the same water.
This has a dual effect as the water resource is not only being polluted, leading to environmental degradation but is also consumed by humans causing health issues and illnesses. Whereas seawater is already being treated for consumption purposes globally, Pakistan, despite experiencing extreme water shortage in certain regions, still gets its fresh water resources polluted primarily due to lack of an updated waste management system.
Since Pakistan is already expected to experience severe climate conditions and water shortage, the government must realise the importance of conservation of water resources, which is much important than the motorways and link roads that count as major infrastructural development but do not ensure sustainable environment and sufficient pool of water resources for future generations.
Construction of dams for water storage remains politically disputed. The federal government instead of seeking to resolve the looming water crisis seems too interested in other initiatives.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2017.