If KWSB can draw water from Keenjhar Lake, it can put money back in, say conservationists

Industrial effluent treatment plants need to be set up as it is poisoning the water.

Our Correspondent April 02, 2012

KARACHI: Environmentalists in Thatta have called on the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) to give at least one per cent of its income for the rehabilitation of Keenjhar Lake.

The KWSB receives about 1,150 cusecs a day from the lake, according to chief engineer Iftikhar Ahmed.

In response to the call for more funding, Ahmed said, “We already give minimum maintenance charges to Keenjhar Lake for leaks and other basic maintenance costs which isn’t a hard and fast number but varies month to month. It usually is anywhere from 1.5 million to two million rupees.”

WWF Programme Coordinator Nasir Ali Panhwar said, however, that they should be contributing more.

“They should be helping with investment in effluent treatment plants and putting money towards improving the livelihoods of the communities there.” The mushrooming infrastructural growth around the lake is putting a strain on the preservation of the lake and its beauty, said Thatta Deputy Commissioner Dr Abdul Hafeez Sial at a festival celebrating Keenjhar Lake arranged by the World Wide Fund for Nature Pakistan’s Indus for all Programme.

The responsibility for preserving the lake doesn’t just fall simply on the government or conservationists. Sial says that the fishermen of the area also need to practice sustainable forms of fishing, which they have to be taught and made more aware of. Tourists can also help preserve the lake, he argued. But in order for that to happen responsible ecotourism needs to be a part of the solution.

Nasir Ali Panhwar says one of the major obstacles is that different stakeholders are working in isolation from each other and an integrated approach is necessary for any progress to take hold.

Some work has been done at the local level to rope in local communities to undertake natural resource management and improve their livelihoods. Nature clubs educate students about environmental issues affecting the lake.

The dumping of untreated industrial effluent has made the lake uninhabitable for many migratory birds as their population has dwindled over the years.

The festival was attended by Ashraf Shah of the fisheries department and folk singer Allah Dino Khaskhali performed at the event.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 3rd, 2012.


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