The Punjab government has installed 50 water filtration plants in the city and is in the process of setting up another 50, to be completed in two months, The Express Tribune has learnt.
The filtration plants, costing Rs2 million each, are meant to filter arsenic as well as bacterial and viral contaminants from the drinking water supply. The places where plants have been set up include Shahdara, the Walled City, Misrih Shah, Aik Moria Pul, Mughalpura, Shalamar Gardens and Sabzazar. In the next phase, plants are being set up at the Lahore Zoo, Data Darbar, Ghulshan-i-Iqbal, outside Lohari Gate, inside New Anarkarli, Pani Wala Talab, the City Railway Station, Lorry Adda and at the Blind School.
The government began setting up the plants after the Lahore High Court took suo moto notice of a study reported in the press showing that arsenic levels in the drinking water supply in much of Lahore were far above World Health Organisation guidelines.
Arsenic can cause cancers of the bladder, lung, skin, kidney and liver. It also harms the central and peripheral nervous systems and the heart and blood vessels, and can cause birth defects and reproductive problems.
A committee consisting of the Water and Sanitation Agency managing director, the additional secretary (technical) at the Public Health Engineering Department, the National Engineering Services of Pakistan director, the chief minister’s personal staff officer and a chemical engineer was set up to design a suitable filtration plant that would cost no more than Rs2 million.
A private company is installing the plants and will maintain them for three years, after which Wasa will look after them. All 100 plants will be connected to a central control and monitoring room.
Khawaja Imran Raza, the chief minister’s personal staff officer, said that 25 filtration plants in the second phase were being installed while the sites where the other 25 would be set up had been identified.
He said that the sites were chosen on the basis of the arsenic level in the water supply in the area, and the income levels of and accessibility to residents. He said that locals were informed about the plant so they could come and get clean drinking water there.
Raza said that a repair manual had been prepared for the plants. Many plants had already been connected to a central monitoring room at the Wasa headquarters. This would make it easy to detect whether the plants were in working order. The plants were housed in pre-fabricated structures, he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2013.
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