Police bust Rawal Dam fish poisoning gang

By Shakeel Anjum
June 03, 2023

Islamabad: The Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Police have made a big breakthrough towards busting a gang that had been active for decades in killing fish in the Rawal Lake by using poison after it arrested two persons. In the past on many occasions thousands and thousands of dead fish were seen floating in the Lake, a freshwater reservoir, which also supplies drinking water to Rawalpindi Cantonment areas as well as a couple of residential sectors of Islamabad.


The Islamabad Police have lodged the first information report (FIR) against two persons identified as Imdad Hussain and Irfan, who were found collecting dead fish floating in Rawal Lake waters which have been killed by poisoning. The Islamabad Police said that now that they have arrested the two persons involved in fish poisoning, there is hope to round up others involved in this heinous crime. The two persons, nominated in the FIR, Imdad Hussain and Irfan, were caught by the workers of the licensed contractor for fishing from Rawal Lake.

They spotted hundreds and hundreds of fish floating near the ‘Rawal Dam Taxi Point’ in the lake during a routine round for checking their nets. They also saw some birds and other small animals and insects dying a tormenting death. The ‘Punjab Fisheries Department’ was informed and their officials collected samples of water and dead fish to ascertain the kind of poison used by the two persons as well as to check the level of contamination of water in the lake.

The worrying point is that the concerned department in the ICT Administration to check such illegal activities has been casting a blind eye towards this issue in the past and even after the latest incident no action apparently has been taken by the ICT Administration. The Assistant Commissioners and the 'Food Inspectors' have been raiding the bakeries and eateries, imposing fines on defaulters and even sealing some outlets for not keeping up to the mark hygiene conditions but no attention has been paid to this serious matter despite the fact that such incidents of dead fish floating in Rawal Lake waters have been reported quite frequently in the past.

It was a most dreadful tactic used by the two persons to kill fish and even worse, to sell the contaminated fish to the general public, who naively believe that it be freshly caught from the Rawal Lake. We have heard, even seen, people using explosives to kill fish in running rivers and ravines but using poison to kill fish is something mind-boggling.

Apparently, the poison was dangerously effective as it not only killed fish in the water but the birds and other fauna found in close vicinity of the contaminated part of the water. This is yet to be ascertained by the concerned authorities as to how much Rawal Lake water has been contaminated.

This is most urgent because the water from Rawal Lake is supplied as ‘drinking water’ to Rawalpindi Cantonment as well as at least two residential sectors of Islamabad in addition to the Park Area where important buildings and installations, like the Sports Complex, the Scouts centre, the Army Aviation Office and many more are located.

The ‘Public Health Department’ of the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) is required to carry out comprehensive tests to check the level of contamination. The concerned authorities at least temporarily suspend the water supply for the time being till these tests are completed.

Not only the water samples from the affected area are required to be tested but samples need to be taken from different points all over the lake to ensure the quality of water and find out whether it is fit for human consumption or not.

It is hoped that all the concerned departments have already started collection of water samples for checking and testing but if that is not so, then it is a serious negligence on their part.

Meanwhile, the ‘fish lovers’ (eaters) in town need to be warned that they might be eating ‘poisoned fish’ if they like to buy ‘fresh fish’ caught from Rawal Dam and being sold at road-side fish sale points, especially at the ‘Park Road’.