FAISALABAD: As many as 80 per cent of the industrial effluent is going to the canals whereas 20 per cent is becoming part of underground water that is playing havoc with the lives of people.

Crops and vegetables being cultivated by using industrial waste can cause serious health hazards to consumers.

This was echoed in a meeting between scientists of the University of Agriculture Faisalabad and 16th Senior Management, National Management College, Lahore, to discuss research studies on water and air quality on Wednesday.

Southern Punjab Poverty Alleviation Project Director Irshad Husain headed the delegation that comprised Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council Deputy Secretary Hamid Nisar, Establishment Division Director Sharaf Jehan and Ministry of Religious Affairs Director Noor Salam.

UAF Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmad said long-term use of such vegetables could expose people to diseases. He said most of the water was being utilised for the agricultural purposes. He said industrial effluent was also contaminating the underground water.

He said separate drinking water and household water supply lines were required across the county to ensure the availability of potable water to the people.

Faculty of Agriculture Dean Prof Dr Muhammad Arshad said sewerage and industry waste water was being dumped into single source that was aggravating the situation. “Mixing of household drain-out water and industrial waste water is making difficult for experts to treat them and convert the toxic water into non-toxic water.”

He said industrialists were reluctant to set up the waste water treatment plants at their units that was a real challenge. He said law on water and air pollution must be implemented in letter and spirit.

Irshad Husain said industrial effluent treatment was essential to provide a healthy environment to citizens. He said it was need of the hour to treat the industrial and waste water.

Institute of Soil and Environmental Sciences Director Prof Dr Javaid Akhtar called for adopting the measures to protect environment as per international standards. He said climate changes were posing a serious threat to the people and Pakistan was its worst victim.

Prof Dr Ghulam Murtaza said effluent water must be treated at the industrial area.

Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2014