KARACHI, Oct 19: The sewage treating capacity of the KWSB treatment plants has shrunk to a mere 60 million gallons a day as one of its treatment plants has abruptly stopped functioning.

This means that a huge quantity of about 340 million gallons of untreated sewage – out of the total 400 million gallons being produced in the city daily – is currently being disposed of into the Arabian Sea, creating a stinking atmosphere and unhygienic conditions along the city’s coastal areas and beaches.

The disposal of such a large quantity of untreated sewage together with industrial waste into the sea is not only harming marine life, it is also disturbing the ecosystem, environmentalists say, adding that at a time when the country is in dire need of foreign exchange, it is being deprived of it owing to the polluted sea, which, off and on, prompts the European Union to impose a ban on the import of fish and shrimps from Pakistan.

Attributing the sudden decline in the quantum of treated sewage to lack of maintenance and low efficiency of all the three treatment plants, sources say the Sewage Treatment Plant-I, which was installed in 1959 in Site with a designed capacity of 51 million gallons a day, is currently treating only 25mgd; TP-II, set up in 1959 at Mehmoodabad with a capacity of treating 46mgd, is now lying idle, and TP-III, built at Mauripur in 1998 with a designed capacity of 54mgd, is currently treating 35mgd only.

Confirming that TP-II was not functioning nowadays, KWSB chief engineer (electrical and mechanical) Gulzar Memon told Dawn that the plant had been closed temporarily as it had become choked. The plant would, however, become operational in two to three weeks as the work to remove its fault had already been geared up.

Insiders said that with the abrupt halt of Mehmoodabad’s TP-II, all the sewage it used to treat earlier was now being diverted to the Mehmoodabad drain directly, and from there it was being disposed of into the sea.

According to the sources, the non-functional TP-II was earlier carrying and treating 75 per cent of the sewage of Jamshed Town, 25 per cent sewage of Gulshan-i-Iqbal Town and 50 per cent of sewage of the Old City area.

Terming the current practice of diverting untreated sewage of the above localities to the Mehmoodabad drain for its final discharge into the sea “a clear violation of the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act,” a senior engineer, having decades-long experience in handling the city’s sewage, said that such a trend, if continued for a longer duration, would not only deposit a heavy amount of silt into the drain but would also pose a serious health hazard to the people residing in the localities along the drain.

Meanwhile, sources said it was surprising that at a time when TP-II was not functioning, some people were busy encroaching upon the plant’s land meant for its upgrade and expansion with the implementation of the Greater Karachi Sewerage Plan (S-III).

More than 15 acres of the plant had already been utilized for setting up graveyards during the previous regime, they recalled.

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