Give a hoot, don’t pollute: Sheikhupura citizens gasp for clean air, water

Over 200 people have been infected with different diseases


Shahid Khan November 08, 2017
PHOTO: EXPRESS

SHEIKHUPURA: Sheikhupura, which is considered the third biggest industrial city of Punjab, is now facing alarmingly high air and groundwater pollution which is causing environmental hazards. It consists of several industrial units that are creating both environmental and water pollution.

Industries and factories in Sheikhupura produce intensely alkaline liquor high in dissolved materials. In the absence of adequate treatment plants, effective drainage system, bulk of the effluent from these industrial units flow into open land and low lying areas with consequential severe damage to flora and fauna.

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The entire municipal waste from the city is collected through a network of drains and discharged into the rivers and canals without any treatment, increasing pollution level with every passing day.

According to various studies, high metal contents and arsenic level has been found in the pumped groundwater that coupled with contamination of sewerage has put the health of the masses at a greater risk of getting diseases.

Owing to constant indifferent attitude of the agencies concerned, the hazards and dangerous effects on the public health pose constant threat. Almost all the public and private hospitals in Sheikhupura are crowded with patients suffering from air and water pollution. The surge in population in the city has brought unprecedented pressure on safe drinking water. In most parts of the city, water is not safe for drinking.

The worst conditions are prevailing in the rural area of the district where majority of population lives. The people in rural areas lack the availability of potable water. Consequently, polluted water is playing more havoc on the people living in villages, who fall prey to a number of diseases.

Huge discharge of untreated domestic and industrial waste has turned rivers and canals in Punjab into a dumping pit, causing serious health and environmental hazards.

The environmental pollution has also lead to the outbreak of many deadly diseases, including respiratory infections and skin diseases.  During the past few days, surge in number of patients has been witnessed in Sheikhupura District and over 200 people have been infected with different diseases.

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Local residents have complained that presence of toxic heavy metals in irrigation and canal water is causing serious damage to animal and human life in surrounding areas. They said the use of contaminated water for agricultural purposes and its consumption is causing people to get waterborne diseases that is putting huge burden on healthcare infrastructure.

They pointed out that ash from the factories has destroyed their homes and has created difficulty in breathing air.

They alleged that officials concerned take bribe from factory owners instead of taking action against them for polluting the environment.

The people demanded of the government to sack corrupt officers and depute honest officials so that they could take action against industrial units involved in creating pollution.

Such sorry state of affairs and role of silent spectators of the regularities bodies speaks volumes of the health issues of the people of Sheikhupura which are in the grip of the major deadly diseases mainly due to the all-time high water and air pollution coupled with the insanitary conditions and the clouds of dust and smoke that are seen in and around the city.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 8th, 2017.

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