Private housing societies contaminating small dams in Islamabad

Published May 4, 2021
A number of small dams in Islamabad and other cities were constructed with a view to meet the drinking water and agriculture need of the local people. — AFP
A number of small dams in Islamabad and other cities were constructed with a view to meet the drinking water and agriculture need of the local people. — AFP

ISLAMABAD: While Covid-19 is on its peak, water in small dams in the federal capital and nearby towns are being polluted by ill-planned settlements and private housing societies, causing serious issues, including the spread of diseases such as hepatitis and gastroenteritis, besides contaminating the underground water.

It has come into the notice of relevant authorities that some private housing societies and other settlements were disposing of their solid waste and sewage into the dams.

The Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration and other authorities have planned an operation after Eidul Fitr to stop spilling of waste water into small dams.

A number of small dams in Islamabad and other cities were constructed with a view to meet the drinking water and agriculture need of the local people. They are being controlled by the Small Dams Organisation (SDO) of the Punjab government.

Capital administration plans operation to close all illegal drains spilling into water reservoirs after Eid, says DC

Meanwhile, SDO wrote letters to relevant authorities of Islamabad about Sundaymar Dam located at Dhoke Sanday in D-17. The construction of this dam was started in 1988 and completed in 1990 with a 50 years’ life span. The purpose of the dam was to irrigate 550 acres through an irrigation channel with the capacity 3.5 cusecs. The dam can serve for another 15-20 years. The reservoir spreads over 50 acres with the maximum depth of 46.50 feet.

The letter said it had been observed at the site that the dam reservoir was silted close to its dead storage level.

It said the dam was designed and constructed in an umbrella project implemented through consultants M/S Hyundal. About 3.55 square miles spreading along the southern side of G.T Road and on the western side of Rawalpindi-Fatehjang Road was considered as the catchment area for the dam.

Later, the CDA approved a plan of the Cabinet Division Cooperative Housing Society for development of a society (E-16 and partially in E-17) in the catchment area.

“Since 2008-09, development of these sectors is going on wherein the sewerage system of these sectors has been designed to outfall in different natural creeks leading to the pond of this dam,” it added.

The letter said currently the population in Cabinet Division Employees Cooperative Housing Society is increasing rapidly and their sewerage lines are disposing of untreated sewage, approximately 0.5 to 2 cusecs, to the natural creeks and ultimately into the pond of Dhoke Sandaymar Dam, causing pollution/bad odour in the stored water.

It said the SDO’s executive engineer had requested the CDA to ensure disposal of sewage only after its proper treatment.

“Now, the matter needs to be taken at the higher level to sort out the issue of contamination of water being used for irrigation and to some extent for drinking,” it added.

The length of the main irrigation channel is 14,000 feet with a minor (Paswal minor) of 4,000 feet.

Customarily, the irrigation channel runs only in June, July and February depending on the demand of irrigators. As per record, agriculture use of the dam water from July 2019 to June 20, 2020, remained limited to just 101.53 acre feet.

Thus surplus raw water is available in the dam for agriculture and domestic use but with proper management/treatment.

When contacted, Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Hamza Shafqaat told Dawn that the issue was in his and other relevant authorities’ knowledge as they had received letters from the SDO.

He said the local administration, SDO and the CDA had planned a joint operation after Eid against private housing societies involved in disposing of waste and sewage into small dams.

The deputy commissioner said SDO was the custodian of dams and their water while the CDA was responsible for surrounding areas of dams, including all private housing societies.

He said no leniency would be shown to those responsible for polluting the small dams, adding all illegal drains spilling into the dams would be closed.

Similarly, private housing societies and housing schemes near the dams will have to have their own water filtration plants so that the waste and sewage is not disposed of into the dams.

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2021

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