THE River Ravi Commission in its third meeting discussed details of a one cusec wastewater treatment wetlands pilot project at a site to be selected by the EPD and Wasa.
The meeting chaired by Dr Kausar Abdullah Malik at the Punjab Environment Protection Department to discuss the rationale for a sewage treatment utilizing natural wetlands and to finalize an agreement about the location for trial treatment plant.
Secretary Environment Punjab Saeed Iqbal Wahlah, Director-General Maqsood Ahmed Lakh, 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 Naseem ur Rehman Shah, Anjum Altaf, Kamil Khan Mumtaz, Syed Muhammad Umair, Chairman Environmental Committee LCCI, and senior EPD officials attended the meeting.
River Ravi Commission Chairman Dr Kausar Abdullah Malik briefed the participants about the objectives of the commission, which has been especially set up by the high court. He said the commission had been formed to protect Ravi from further degradation to revert the environmental conditions of the river to its original state.
River Ravi is the most polluted river in Pakistan and contributes to nearly 50 per cent of the overall discharge of sewage into the River Indus. Because of the pollution, nearly 40 species of fish have been lost and the river is now no longer even suitable for recreational purposes. The commission is to submit its preliminary report to the Lahore High Court within two months.
Dr Kausar constituted a sub committee comprising six members including Wasa, district government and EPD officials to shapeup the commission’s decision into a practical shape. The sub committee has been assigned a task to find out a location for the installation of a small treatment plant after which it would decide further steps.
Engineer Muhammad Aslam, expert National Agriculture Research Centre (NARC), has informed the meeting regarding the construction of 1 cusec wastewater treatment wetlands at a site which would be later selected by the EPD and Wasa.
He also presented a detailed presentation in which different phases of wetlands were shown to the meeting participants. The legal members present in the meeting stressed to work on physical as well as legal aspects for the protection of the river. They said the task needed to be completed effectively.
Talking to the meeting participants, Secretary Environment Saeed Wahlah said that now it was the time to do some practical work. He said that there were more than nine pumping stations in the City from where wastewater was being pumped into River Ravi and Wasa should install atleast one small treatment plant at any of these pumping stations. He said that now all the departments and stakeholders have to join hands so that the basic objectives of this commission could be achieved. Saeed Wahlah said that we had to consult almost every practical option and in the first step industries would be asked to install their individual treatment plants and septic tanks. He emphasized on 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.