High levels of arsenic make underground water in Dadu lethal

Published May 13, 2021
Underground water in Dadu city and surrounding areas has become brackish with high levels of salts and arsenic. — APP/File
Underground water in Dadu city and surrounding areas has become brackish with high levels of salts and arsenic. — APP/File

DADU: Underground water in Dadu city and surrounding areas has become brackish with high levels of salts and arsenic, making it completely unfit for human consumption and causing hepatitis A, B and C, renal, abdominal and skin diseases among people.

According to a survey, 90 per cent population in 24 wards of four union councils in the city were compelled to purchase freshwater from private reverse osmosis plants since the five RO plants installed by public health engineering department have not been functioning due to lack of repairs for the past five years.

Geologist Adal Mahesar said that major cause of rise in hepatitis A, B and C, renal, abdominal and skin diseases in the city was the use of contaminated underground water, which had high levels of arsenic.

He said that clearance of forests had caused climate changes in the area and human waste of the city was being drained out into canals, which rendered freshwater bodies highly contaminated while majority of people were compelled to consume this poison.

Agricultural scientist Sabir Hussain Bhand said that municipal committee and public health engineering department had not cleaned ponds from where water was supplied to the city.

These ponds were located at three different places and they had all become dirty, still they were supplying water to all parts of the city. When this water got mixed with drainage water it caused fatal diseases among citizens, he cautioned.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf district president Sardar Ashiq Ali Zour said that Dadu municipal committee had a monthly budget of Rs300 million but officers embezzled the huge amount every month and did nothing to resolve the issue of supply of clean water to citizens.

He said that Rs100m monthly budget of PHE for maintenance and operation of water supply schemes was also being embezzled every month while a water supply scheme worth Rs702m had not been completed over the past seven years.

Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Barrister Pir Mujeebul Haq said that he had repeatedly reminded the PHE and local government departments to make all water supply schemes and ROs functioning and complete remaining construction work on the schemes but in vain.

He said that he would approach chief minister and request him for allocating funds for water supply schemes and warned officers of PHE and municipal committee, saying he would take action against them and complain to the chief minister if all non-functioning ROs were not made functional.

DHO Dr Zahid Hussain Dawachh advised citizens to use clean and fresh water and advised them to drink filtered water to avoid waterborne diseases.

Former Sindh chief minister Liaquat Ali Jatoi said that Fareedabad, Shah Godrio, Mado, Gozo, Tharari Mohabbat, Nau Goth, Loong Mahesar, Kazi Arif, Mehar, Kakar, Khanpur, Chhinni, Wahi Pandhi, Tando Rahim Khan, Sawaro, Pat Gul Mohammad, Qasibo, Khudabad, Jhaloo and Moundar towns in Dadu district were also faced with similar problem.

He said that an estimated 150 water supply schemes were lying non-functional in all parts of the district and 200 ROs were not working in the district. All the budget meant for maintenance and operation of ROs and water supply schemes had been embezzled by TMAs, MCs and PHE officials in the district, he said.

Dr Ghulam Abbas Mahesar said that 400 employees of PHE were comfortably drawing salaries while sitting at their home in the district. They were not performing their duties properly. People were purchasing freshwater from private ROs at a rate of Rs50 per jerry can, he said.

Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2021

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