ISLAMABAD, June 5: Two years after taking notice of pollution in the Rawal Lake, the Supreme Court (SC) closed its suo motu proceedings on Tuesday by directing the environment protection agencies of the federal and Punjab governments to ensure that the lake water is kept free of contamination.
“Is it necessary to provide poisonous water to the people,” Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry asked the officials of the two agencies, deploring that nothing had been done to make the water of the lake safe for the people of Rawalpindi it is supplied to.
Rawal Lake is the main source of drinking water for the nearly two million people of the garrison city.
Created by a dam built at the site, the lake started supplying 84,000 acre feet of water to the city in 1960, before Islamabad emerged at the site as the federal capital. Constructed on Korang River, Rawal Dam has a catchment area of 275 square km. Four major and 43 small streams feed the lake the dam created.
In its directive, the three-member bench of the Supreme Court asked directors general of the Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (Pak-EPA), Asif Shuja and the EPA Punjab to regularly visit the dam and report to the Supreme Court registrar that the water is fit for consumption.
At the last hearing on Tuesday, Additional Advocate General Punjab Jawad Hassan informed the three-member bench of the Supreme Court that in compliance to its earlier order, Cabinet Secretary Nargis Sethi, Chief Secretary Punjab Nasir Khosa, Commissioner Islamabad Tariq Peerzada, Managing Director Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) and Director-General Pak-EPA sat together and committed to keep the lake clean.
It was also decided that the Capital Development Authority would install a modern treatment plant at the lake.
Meanwhile, on the direction of the court, the Punjab government appointed an environment tribunal on April 24, 2012 to decide environmental cases, the Punjab law officer added.
However, the court took exception to the appointment of a single environment tribunal for the entire Punjab, that too one that cannot on its own initiate proceedings on the breach of environmental laws unless some one moved a complaint before it.
The court also deplored that the government was not advised properly and wondered would the people from all over the province go to Lahore to register complaints.
Additional Advocate General Jawad Hasan conceded that the tribunal was established only because of the apex court and informed that the tribunal was seized with 12 cases.
At this Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja highlighted the deplorable condition of River Ravi which had become a sewage dump due to effluent and slush and lamented that executive machinery come out of deep slumber and become active whenever a matter is brought into the notice of the court.
The chief justice thought that at least nine tribunals should have been set up in the Punjab - one in each division.
Advocate Waheed Anjum invited the attention of the court towards the poultry farms in Kahuta which, he said, were the main source of pollution.
DG Pak-EPA Asif Shuja informed the court that one of the two polluting farms had been sealed while his department was also in constant touch with the other. He also informed that 267 cases have been referred to the tribunal whereas 2,200 more cases were yet to be transferred.
The court also asked Additional Secretary Cabinet Mushaidullah Beg to provide a three-liner that lake’s water is fit for drinking so that the court could dispose of the matter.
Mushaidullah responded that the DG EPA had visited the site but conceded that effluent and sewage were coming into the lake from Diplomatic Enclave, Bari Imam and Noorpur Shahan.