Motorboats in Rawal Lake banned

The EPA directive came in the light of the Supreme Court’s verdict on the issue of pollution in the lake.

Sehrish Wasif September 03, 2010

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) directed Capital Development Authority (CDA) to cease the operation of motorboats and  water scooters in Rawal Lake.The EPA directive came in the light of the Supreme Court’s verdict on the issue of pollution in the lake. The Supreme court directed (ICT), Pak-EPA and CDA to take strict action against those involved in water scooters service operation in Rawal lake.

Pak-EPA withdrew the relaxation given to CDA in May 2009 in its Environmental Protection Order for limited operation of motorised boats and water scooters. After withdrawal of relaxation, no motorised boat or water scooter would be allowed to operate in the Rawal Lake and violators will be prosecuted under the provisions of Pakistan Environmental Protection Act, 1997.

CDA was earning a lucrative amount by this recreational facility and apparently ignored the discharge of diesel from the boats, contaminating the lake water which is also used for domestic consumption, while also affecting marine life. EPA prerogative regarding the contamination of lake water came in February 2009 but was not enforced by CDA. In June 2009, EPO issued another notification which slightly relaxed the boating service regulations. It allowed only small boats with engine capacity of 30 horsepower. A “No Boating Zone” of 1000 meters from the inlet of drinking water treatment plant was also specified.

The EPA relaxation decree allowed only those boats / scooters which would undergo inspection for oil leakage or visible smoke after every six months. Pak-EPA observed that none of the conditions laid down in relaxation order was met. Operation of all kind of boats / scooters was allowed unabated.

Motorised boats / scooters also cause churning effects in water, increasing mud and disturbing the settled biological material, which causes extra load on the treatment plant. Ramzan Sajid official spokesperson could not be contacted in this regard.

Published in The Express Tribune, September3rd, 2010.