Government agencies are still unsure what caused the contamination of the Keenjhar Lake, which killed thousands of fish and other forms of marine life, while the water utility claimed that water being supplied to the city from the lake was safe for human consumption.
The Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa), the Sindh Irrigation Department, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Pakistan and the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) had collected water samples from the lake to determine the cause of the contamination. However, all four of these institutions have yet to determine the actual cause.
Meanwhile, the KWSB clarified that the water being supplied to Karachi was not contaminated and is fit for human consumption.“The water being supplied to Karachi from the lake is some 30 kilometers away from where the contamination occurred.
We have analysed the water in our supply system and found that it is not contaminated with any hazardous chemicals,” KWSB Managing Director Misbahuddin Farid told The News.Karachi gets about 80 percent of its water from the Keenjhar Lake through a canal and pumping station; any contamination of the freshwater lake may cause serious health issues for Karachiites, say experts.
Farid added that it was the responsibility of the Sindh Irrigation Department to monitor the Keenjhar Lake for contamination. Sindh Environment Minister Shaikh Muhammad Afzal told The News that he had not yet received the results of analysis on the water samples. He added that a complete water analysis takes three to five days.
“I’m in contact with various organisations, including the Irrigation Department and other agencies, and as soon as we get results, they will be shared with the media” he assured.Nearly all of the government agencies along with the WWF are depending on a water technologist, Dr Ahsan Siddiqui, for determining the cause of the contamination.
When asked about the progress on the analysis, Dr Siddiqui said that the test results, which were supposed to be ready Friday, had been delayed because of malfunctioning equipment. “We are working on the issue and as soon as analysis is completed, the cause of contamination and the presence of any chemicals, metals or any other materials will be disclosed to authorities and the public” he added.
Additionally, the KWSB has increased the level of chlorine in the water being supplied to Karachi and has asked its technical staff to ensure clean drinking water to the citizens by removing silt, stones and garbage from the canals that are supplying water.
The water technical team has been asked to carryout the task on emergency basis, keeping in view the contamination of the water source. They have also been directed to closely monitor the water supply network and ensure that no untoward incident takes place.