ISLAMABAD: City managers have finally decided to stop talking and start cleaning the polluted waters of the natural streams of Islamabad - and do that the natural way.
Top officials of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) have given the task to the experts of the National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC), who are likely to start the work from the Rose and Jasmine Garden before the month is out.
NARC experts will replicate their bio-remediation process that has kept water flows in the organisation’s vast grounds clean for years.
Until early 1980s, the natural streams flowing through the Islamabad territory used to be sparkling clean.
But as the city’s population and municipal negligence grew, dumping of human waste into the streams started polluting and clogging the streams.
“Sewerage water filtration is done by some plants which extract toxins from the waste water as a result the pollutants in the water drops significantly,” an official of the CDA’s parks department told Dawn explaining the bio-remediation process.
CDA staff has started digging the first of the 10 ponds as part of implementing the process in the Rose and Jasmine Garden. These ponds, measuring 7’x3’x6’, will hold the polluted waters of the stream meandering through the garden for the special aquatic plants to absorb their toxin materials.
“After staying in these ponds for a period of detoxification, the water would be released back into the main stream,” said the CDA official. “That would also remove the foul smell of the polluted water and the treated water can be used for horticulture.”
Though the CDA was proposed the process years ago, its bosses sat over the proposal because environmental issues did not figure high on their priorities.
“Every time the need for cleaning the polluted streams was raised the discussion ended with the question where to start from,” a CDA insider said.
But now the CDA hierarchy appears to be earnest to the task as after the Rose and Jasmine Garden it will be launched in F-9 Park.
“Indeed, the CDA is considering to gradually expand the project to all sectors of Islamabad where streams flow,” its spokesman Asim Khichi said.
Fears that increasing water pollution may burst into an epidemic one day is believed to be one factor behind the effort.
“Untreated human waste carries a variety of diseases including diarrhoea, gastroenteritis, typhoid, and even polio,” said Abdul Hafeez of WaterAid, an NGO.
“An outbreak would hit not just those living close to the dirty streams but population of the city’s main sectors would also be vulnerable,” he said.
There are around 11 streams flowing down the Margalla Hills into the Islamabad territory. Some are small and short but become big when they merge into each other. Pollutants have turned the water in some of these streams black and foul.