FAISALABAD: Pakistan’s textile exports may be booming but the town housing the looms is wilting, courtesy irresponsible industrialists.
Over 129 industrial units in Faisalabad are polluting waterways, discharging their effluent into the drains without treating it. The majority of these industrial units is export-oriented and thus legally obliged, to install treatment plants.
Clogging the ‘aquarteries’
Faisalabad has two major drains, built to reverse waterlogging and salinity that had cropped up due to the rising water table in large sections of surrounding areas. The areas had turned into a barren wasteland, prompting water and soil experts in the irrigation department to build these drains, and make the land cultivable again.
The drains were not meant, or designed, for carrying industrial effluent but almost all industries discharge their waste directly into them, right under the government’s gaze.
Surprisingly, the irrigation department is granting permission to the industrial units to discharge their waste.“Legally, no industrial unit is allowed to discharge its waste into the drain, but industrialists here have major influence,” said an irrigation department official.
Devil in the details
A quick glance at the agreement drafted between the industrialists and the provincial government, however, shows that the permission was accorded subject to treating of the effluent before being discharged into the drains. The construction and operation of the treatment plants were the responsibility of industrial unit owners. Implementation of the agreement, however, is yet to be seen.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 8th, 2011.