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Plan to save Rawal Lake from poison

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ISLAMABAD, Sept 30: For the citizens of Islamabad Rawal Lake is a place of recreation but for neighbouring Rawalpindi it is the main source of water – a polluted one at that.

A little over 17 tons of sewage flows into the lake every day through its tributaries, 36 per cent of it produced by surrounding populations living in areas falling in the Punjab province and the rest in Islamabad Capital Territory.

“These are some of the most congested habitations with not even such basic civic facility as collecting solid waste. Water, garbage, everything, is dumped directly into the tributaries that recharge the Rawal Lake,” a senior officer of the Islamabad Capital Territory Administration told Dawn, explaining a plan to control the pollution.

Prepared by the Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (Pak-EPA), the plan calls for building a Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) on one of the tributaries that brings 3.65 million gallons of sludge from housing societies upstream and dumps it into the Rawal Lake daily.

It would cost Rs735 million to build, and Rs1.4 million to run, but would check the pollutants sent down by the clusters of ill-planned colonies, like Madina Colony and Muslim Colony - that is if the STP project is approved and is provided required funds.“It is a facility needed to protect the lake from complete poisoning. The STP is a massive structure and would take about two years to build,” said Director-General Asif Shuja of Pak-EPA, which is providing technical support to the project. Two more such plants are planned. “But constructing them would depend on the effectiveness of the first one, and on how smoothly funds flow,” the DG said.

As far as the first project is concerned, the ICT and the Punjab government agree to share the “running cost” as the populations of both are guilty of causing the pollution in the lake.

A year-long study by the Capital Development Authority found that raw sewage produced by nearly 230,000 people living across the 70,000-acre catchment area of the Rawal Lake is discharged into the purpose-built lake.

Overall, ICT’s Shahdara, Bhara Kahu, Dhoke Chohbun, PTV and other housing colonies along Simli Road produce more garbage.

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