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Pakistan

Lower Sindh faces health hazards


By Amar Guriro

The discharge of heavily contaminated domestic and industrial waste into Phuleli Canal in Hyderabad continues unabatedly and no relevant authority has taken notice of the grave threat this situation poses.

A large portion of the province, particularly the lower Sindh, has brackish and saline underground water due to the influence of the sea and water shortage in the Indus River.

Phuleli Canal is one of the important canals of River Indus that provides potable water to more than three million human population of three major districts in lower Sindh along with the Akram Wah (also known as Lined Channel).

During a recent visit to the canal, this scribe found several illegal outlets pouring sewerage water into it. Since there is no restriction whatsoever regarding the disposal of waste in these canals, there are dozens of drainage outlets from the entire Hyderabad city.

The discharging of untreated sewage, garbage, industrial waste, effluent from laundry factories, cattle excreta from hundreds of cattle farms established on the banks of the canal, and waste products from hospitals and slaughterhouses into the an area over 20-km of Phuleli Canal and partly into the Lined Channel.

According to Badin Development and Research Organisation (BDRO), an organisation working on water contamination, all the hospital waste from Hyderabad city’s 40 main sewer nullahs.

Beside that there are effluents from 1,000 big laundries, effluent from 500 cattle farms situated on both sides of the canal, toxic waste from 12 plastic factories and domestic sewage. These all sources of pollution are located in Tando Muhammad Khan, Matli and Talhar towns is poured into Phuleli Canal.

“The heavily contaminated sewage and garbage, toxic chemicals, dyes and other heavy metals in the industrial effluents as well as wastes from slaughterhouses and animal excretions have converted these water bodies into poisonous canals,” said BDRO’s Muhammad Khan Samoo.

His organisation, BDRO has recently conducted a laboratory test after taking several water samples from Phuleli Canal and found that the water is highly toxic and not safe for human consumption.

“The recent results of the water samples show that contaminated water is causing abdominal diseases in resident of cities and towns carrying potable water from Phuleli Canal,” said Samoo.

On the other hand, District Nazim Hyderabad Kanwar Naveed Jamil justified the pouring of highly contaminated industrial and domestic waste from Hyderabad city.
“It is not new phenomenon and has been going on since 1947. I am not responsible for the industrial waste in Phuleli Canal and you should ask the people from the related department,” said Nazim.

He added that his government has recently started treatment plants so that sewerage water can be treated and then poured into the canal. “Though Hyderabad is not taking a single bucket of water from this canal but we have planned three major treatment plants for the lower districts purely on humanitarian grounds,” he said while admitting that all the sewerage of Hyderabad city is being poured in the canals or in Indus River.

“I have no idea exactly how much sewerage water is produced daily in the city, as some portion of it is poured in canals and other portions are either poured in Indus River or used for agricultural purposes,” he said.

He maintained that the district governments of district Tando Muhammad Khan and Badin are responsible to arrange the treatment plants for the sewerage water of Hyderabad that is being poured into the Phuleli Canal as they are taking potable water from it.

The federal and provincial government must take serious notice of the activities, which are causing water contamination and must come forward to save the people living in the lower districts of Sindh.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Daily Times

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About WashMedia-South Asia

WashMedia-South Asia is a group of South Asian journalists working on water, sanitation and hygiene issues. Theses journalists are from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

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