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LAHORE, July 30: The River Ravi Commission on Monday held its third meeting under the chairmanship of Dr Kausar Abdullah Malik at the Punjab Environment Protection Department to finalise the agreement about the location for treatment plant facility, says a press release issued by EPD.

It says Punjab Environment Secretary Saeed Iqbal Wahlah, Director-General Maqsood Ahmed Lakh, Mina Muhammad Abdullah, MD WASA, Director WWT Shakeel Ahmed Kashmiri, Punjab Advocate General Ashtar Ausaf Ali, Ali Habib, DG WWF Pakistan, Ali Husnain Syed, Managing Director WWF, Vaqar Zakaria, Director EIA Naseemur Rehman Shah, Anjum Altaf, Kamil Khan Mumtaz, Syed Muhammad Umair, Chairman Environmental Committee LCCI, and senior EPD officials attended the meeting.

It says RRC Chairman Dr Kausar Abdullah Malik briefed the participants about the objectives of the commission especially constituted by the high court. He said the commission had been formed to protect the Ravi from further degradation to revert the environmental conditions of the river to its original state.

The objective of the commission is to restore the natural ecology of the river which is the most polluted river in Pakistan and contributes to nearly 50 per cent of the overall discharge of effluent into the Indus. Because of the pollution, nearly 40 species of fish have been lost and the river is now no longer suitable for recreational purposes. The commission is to submit its preliminary report to the Lahore High Court within two months.

Dr Kausar Malik has constituted a sub-committee comprising six members, including Wasa, district government and EPD officials to shape up the commission’s decision into a practical form. The sub-committee has been assigned task to find out a location for the installation of small treatment plant.

Engineer Muhammad Aslam, expert of National Agriculture Research Centre (NARC), informed the meeting about the construction of 1 cusec wastewater treatment wetlands at a site which would be later selected by the EPD and Wasa.

He also made a detailed presentation in which different phases of wetlands were shown to the participants.

The legal members emphasised the need to work on physical as well as legal aspects for the protection of the river. They were of the view that the task needed to be completed effectively.

Talking to the participants, Environment Secretary Saeed Wahlah said:

“Now it is time to do some practical work. There are more than nine pumping stations in the city from where wastewater is being pumped into the Ravi and Wasa should install at least one small treatment plant at any of these pumping stations.”

He said now all departments and stakeholders would have to join hands together so that the basic objectives of the commission could be achieved. “We have to consult almost every practical option and in the first step industries will be asked to install their individual treatment plants and septic tanks.”

He emphasised the need to find out a cheaper solution in a very short time for the treatment of wastewater of Lahore city.

Further investigative studies on various components of the river were suggested which included number of industrial units and their discharge patterns and number of wastewater treatment plants installed.