The relevant authorities are once again overlooking the rising level of pollution in the Rawal Lake as no financial allocation has been made so far in the coming budget of the Planning Division to tackle the problem.
An official of the environment protection agency (EPA), told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity on Sunday, that the Planning Division in its coming budgetary plan had not made any allocation so far for a project proposed last year for cleaning the lake.
The level of pollution in the lake is a serious concern as residential sewage and waste from buffalo sheds and poultry farms in Shahadra Village, Bari Imam Shrine, Bhara Kahu, Bani Gala, Quaid-i-Azam University and Diplomatic Enclave continuously flow into the Rawal Dam.
In October last year, the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Administration, civic bodies of the twin cities including the Capital Development Authority (CDA), the Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) Rawalpindi, Rawalpindi Cantonment Board and the Pak-EPA made a plan to clean Rawal Lake.
In the first phase, the ICT Administration had to submit a project concept with the Planning Commission to start work on the construction of disintegrated sewage treatment plants (STPs) on a priority basis at four major pollution sources in the limits of the ICT. Unfortunately, the rising pollution in the lake could not get the priority attention it deserved.
The Rawal Lake is the main source of water supply to Rawalpindi city and cantonment areas. Rawal Dam has a catchment area of 106 sq miles, which generates 84,000 acre feet of water in an average rainfall year.
For the last few decades, the lake is subjected to pollution due to human settlements, poultry wastes, recreational activity, deforestation, erosion and sedimentation. Due to continuous flow of waste, silt and sediments, the storage capacity of the lake has also decreased.
“In view of the importance of the project and gravity of the situation, the EPA made repeated requests to the ICT Administration to take the issue of rising pollution in the Rawal Lake seriously,” the EPA official said.
He said that the ICT Administration took a long time preparing the project concept and then did not pursue the matter seriously.
The official said that a month ago in a meeting with all the stakeholders, the interior secretary had agreed to forward the matter to the Planning Division for immediate consideration but the matter was not moved.
In the past, many short-term plans were initiated to control pollution in Rawal Lake but all such measures including plugging of illegal sewage connections in Bari Imam, Bani Gala, Nurpur Shahan, Bhara Kahu, and Quaid-i-Azam University, to prevent the flow of polluted water into the lake have been unsuccessful since residents of these areas have unplugged those connections.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2015.