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An environmental impact assessment (EIA) report by a private consultancy firm comes up with shocking facts about underground water’s quality, noise pollution level and air quality in Lahore division.

The EIA report is on the proposed amendments to the master plan for Lahore division-2021 (Lahore, Kasur, Sheikhupura and Nankana Sahib) regarding the allocation of new sites for industry and population growth. The firm got analysed 16 groundwater samples collected from different locations.

“The samples collected from Lahore and Kasur sites are unfit for drinking as they have contamination with heavy metals and microbes. However, the samples taken from Sheikhupura and Nankana Sahib proved to be fit for drinking purposes,” the report reads.

The report states the surface water (canal) samples were found in compliance with the National Environment Quality Standards while the samples taken from Hadiara drain and the Daig Nullah were high in pollution load with contamination of heavy metals. The Ravi’s surface water samples were higher in pollution load on downstream side. However, the River Sutlej sample had no contamination on upstream but higher in pollution load on downstream.

According to results, the ambient air quality on all the measured location is within the NEQS, except for particulate matter which is higher on road sides. “The CO is also little bit higher on road sides in comparison with clean ambient air for which CO level should be less than 2.0 ppm. The results show that the noise levels on all major roads are much higher than the NEQS but the noise levels are in compliance of the NEQS in villages and settlements,” the report goes on.

On groundwater depletion, the report says the groundwater level is already on depleting trend (about 2.5-3.0 feet per year) and the situation requires appropriate mitigation measures to resolve the issue

The EIA report recommends prevention at source and strict compliance by enforcement agencies. It also seeks installation of a waste water treatment plant on outfalls that falls into the River Ravi besides ensuring provision of water septic ponds and reservoirs at homes and industries as well as mentioned in building bylaws. The recommendations of the River Ravi Commission should be followed that include the development of constructed wetlands on drains before discharge into the River Ravi and provision of septic tanks in new housings

The report recommends channelisation and modification of the river area from only where there is chance of flood hazard to occur. It recommends development of large retention ponds in between the river and the flood prone areas. Water can be trapped in a retention pond and then released at a controlled discharge to prevent flooding. Dikes should be developed precise to the identified flood prone areas along the side of the rivers in order to prevent the flood.

It says that since the climate change poses a serious threat to project areas, a detailed climate change vulnerability assessment of Lahore division is required for the detail analysis of climate change with mitigation and adaptive strategies.

The government must pay attention towards these issues.

Last week, the City District Government of Lahore’s transport wing began a special campaign against overloading on heavy vehicles and lacking fitness certificates. There have been various incidents in Lahore where overloaded and poorly maintained vehicles caused the loss of property and life.

According to officials, senior officials have given a free hand to the secretary (regional transport authority) to end the practice by impounding vehicles or imposing heavy fines on the violators.

“We have challaned or impounded 500 vehicles for flouting traffic and operation rules,” an official told Dawn.

He said the drive would remain continued till elimination of the practice.

(khalidpak284@yahoo.com)

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2016