At risk: Manchar Lake needs Rs29b to be clean

Supreme Court told federal government yet to hand over money.


Express August 10, 2011

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court was informed that Rs29 billion would be needed to make Sindh’s Manchar Lake pollution-free. The reply came when the court expressed its annoyance over a delay in funding for this project.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Shakirullah Jan was hearing the suo motu case on the high levels of contamination in Manchar Lake.

During the course of the hearing, the Water and Power Development Authority, the irrigation department, and the Sindh government submitted a report on the project. The total cost is estimated at Rs29 billion but for work under way they need Rs5 billion from the federal government.

Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmany lamented in his remarks that so much was being spent on the prime minister’s tour, while the funds for the supply of potable water to the people was not being released. The Supreme Court sought a report from the central and Sindh governments on the protection of Manchar Lake.

The research

Manchar Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake in Pakistan but it has received less and less fresh water in the past few years. In addition to this, drainage water is being discharged into the lake through the Main Nara Valley Drain (MNVD) for many years. “Consequently, concern has grown regarding the water quality of the lake,” wrote University of Sindh experts in 2008 for a paper published in the international Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Journal.

They tried to determine the properties and concentrations of trace metals from the waters. They found that the pH levels of both Manchar Lake and MNVD waters and the concentration of these trace metals were higher than the World Health Organisation’s guideline values for the drinking water quality. Other researchers have concentrated on the high levels of the poison arsenic in the waters.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2011.