The Environment Protection Department on Friday issued a notice to the Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) for its failure to install a waste water treatment plant at the site where Sattukatla drain carrying hazardous industrial effluents joins the Ravi River.
An EPD spokesperson said that Wasa was told to submit a quick reply. In case of non-compliance, he said, the EPA will order a hearing order against Wasa and forward its findings to the Environment Tribunal for further action. He said the action had been taken under Section 16 (1) of the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act, 1997.
The order was issued following an EPD official’s inspection on Friday of nine drains that carry residential waste to the Ravi River. These were Sukh Nehar, Mehmood Booti, Shadbagh Drain, Forest Colony Drain, Buddha Ravi Drain in Shafiqabad, Outfall Drain near Saggian Bridge, Gulshan-i-Ravi Drain, Babu Sabu Drain, Farukhabad-Shahdara Srain and Shahdara Village Drain.
The samples collected from the drains were sent for laboratory tests to determine the levels of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and chemical oxygen demand (COD).
EPD official Naseemur Rahman said Wasa had been promising since 1999 to install three waste water treatment plants at the sites where drains merged. He said this year Wasa had dropped its plans for three plants and announced it will install one at Sattu Katla.
Wasa officials say feasibility reports have been prepared for these projects, however, no concrete step has been taken so far.
Several calls to Shakeel Kashmiri, the waste water director, and Wasa Managing Director Javaid Iqbal were declined.
The EPD took the action over a petition filed at the Green Bench of the Lahore High Court on Wednesday pointing towards polluting of Ravi River. The petitioner, Pakistan Environment Lawyers’ Association, had said that the River Ravi contributed 56 per cent of the hazardous waste carried by the River Indus.
Wasa MD, in an interview with The Express Tribune in June 2011, had said that work on the installation of the wastewater treatment plant at Babu Sabu will begin by December 2011.
Inspections by the EPD teams have revealed the self-developed settlements, unplanned industrial establishment, irregular sewage discharge, improper solid waste dumping in and around the Ravi from Narang Ravi Syphon down to the Maraka village have also led to ecological disturbance in the river.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2012.