The residents of the twin cities are facing a fresh headache as the water in Rawal Dam becomes heavily polluted by the inflow of sewage and waste water, especially with the monsoon rains. As the primary source of drinking water, the contamination of the reservoir is a concern, not only for residents, but the authorities as well.
Rawal Dam has a catchment area of 275 square km, which provides an average of 84,000 acre feet of water annually. Official sources in the Islamabad administration said that at least five million gallons of raw sewage flows into the reservoir daily, posing serious health hazards. Two of the main contributors are housing societies and the 104 poultry farms established in Murree. The situation exacerbates during the monsoon season.
Talking to The Express Tribune, residents of the city expressed serious concerns and criticised the government for their indifference to the issue. “My family has been drinking contaminated water for many years and despite the fact that the Supreme Court (SC) took suo motu notice, the water continues to be polluted,” said Adeel Jalani, a resident of Khayaban-e-Sir Syed. Jalani was referring to the suo motu action taken by the SC last year, when the federal and Punjab environment protection agencies were directed to initiate proceedings against people discharging sewage into Rawal Dam.
Islamabad Deputy Commissioner (DC) Amir Ali Ahmed said that on the directions of the SC, Islamabad Capital Territory had made a comprehensive plan to cope with the situation. He said that three seepage pits will be established in Bara Kahu, Noorpur Shahan and Bani Gala at a cost of Rs 40million, adding that the pit at Noorpur Shahan has been completed.
“Three main dumping points will be established in Sihala, Bara Kahu and Koral, where all the waste material from 12 union councils will be dumped,” he added. He further said that a solid waste disposal plant worth Rs 10million will also be set up soon.
Capital Development Authority (CDA) Water and Sewerage Director General Shahid Sohail said that they notices have been issued to 301 houses located in the suburb for discharging sewage into the lake. “Following the SC’s directions, we have made a comprehensive plan to resolve the issue; ten seepage pits have been made to absorb the sewage”. Sohail asked people to stop disposing sewage in their locality while adding that the administration is monitoring the situation.
Source told The Express Tribune that as many as 25 housing colonies located in the suburbs of the city were discharging water into Rawal Dam. These housing societies including Bahria Golf City, Atomic Energy Employees Cooperative Housing Society, OGDC Housing Society Islamabad, Ghora Gali, Desto Lab, Madina Town, Al Noor Colony, Shahdara Khass, PTV Housing Colony, Margalla View Housing Society, Judicial Colony Chattar, Bani Gala, Bhara Kahu, Bari Imam, Quaid-i-Azam University and the Diplomatic Enclave.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2011.