Drinking water lacks quality

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TWO separate reports that appeared in national media on Sunday spoke about the quality of drinking water and the need to improve the situation on war footings. One report said that judicial commission, formed by the Supreme Court to probe the Sindh Government’s alleged failure to provide clean drinking water and proper sanitation facilities to the citizens in the province, was informed that the people were being provided water mixed with human waste and that 90% of Karachi’s water was unfit for human consumption. In a related development, water supply from the Capital’s Rawal Lake was suspended after a large number of dead fish were spotted in the dam, sparking fears that lake water had been poisoned or contaminated.
The issue of quality of drinking water is assuming serious dimensions but it seems those at the helm of affairs are least concerned. Apart from Karachi, there have been reports and complaints from Islamabad as well regarding massive contamination at Simly Dam, the principal source of water supply to the Capital, and mixing of sewerage and drinking water pipelines due to worn out distribution systems. One wonders what would be the situation in other parts of the country if people in the two cities of Islamabad, Rawalpindi and those of Karachi were not getting clean drinking water. Same is the position in areas of Lahore close to industrial estates as well as most of the localities in Faisalabad where people are forced to drink water contaminated by industrial waste. And in many other areas especially interior Sindh, Balochistan and Thar, people and cattle drink from the same ponds. It is because of this situation that instance of Hepatitis and other water-borne diseases in Pakistan is one of the highest in the world. Both federal and provincial governments spend billions of rupees on treatment and this can be saved to great extent if the focus shifts to prevention especially provision of clean drinking water to people. The project for establishment of filtration plants and their planned expansion to union council level had the prospects to help mitigate the problem but regrettably it could not be implemented and filtration plants already established are not maintained as they should be. Local, provincial and federal governments should give priority to schemes regarding supply of clean drinking water to people as without this we cannot realise the dream of a healthy nation.