Rizwan Haider/ Ayesha Zahid
ISLAMABAD: Do we have some environmental laws? If yes then why no reins are put on industrial sector who is exploiting the sources by threatening the clean drinking water. The Pakistan Environment Protection Act, 1997 clearly prohibits the excessive practices that may undermine the natural environment. The Pakistan Environment Protection Agency has a responsibility of identifying legislation on the environmental issues. It is also responsible for jotting down the necessary measurements to rid the natural environment of the pollutants. It has so much authority that it can arrest the convicts without even any warrants. Environment Protection Act, Section 20 points out to the punishments that include prolonged imprisonments and heavy fines. The Pakistan Environment Protection Council is bound to hold meetings but no such rule has been followed. The dissatisfaction and escalating number of petitioners who remain dissatisfied by the clean drinking water buries all the documentation away. Last month a task force was setup by the Supreme Court which figured out that 83.5pc of water in 14 out of 29 districts in Sindh was not up to the standards and couldn’t be considered safe. A poignant fact here is the unawareness of the authorities. Nearly one quarter of the population is living with the water that is unhealthy.
Another recent World Health Organization (WHO) study report said that at least 70 million people of Pakistan residing across the four provinces, Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) were exposed to contaminated water polluted with arsenic. Previous studies had revealed that groundwater in some areas of Pakistan also contained high levels of arsenic. But the extent of those risks was unknown, says Joel Podgorski, an environmental scientist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology in Dübendorf and lead author of the new study.
Cholera, Dysentery, Hepatitis A, Lead Poisoning, Polio, Typhoid Fever is just to name a few that are the consequences of the unclean drinking water whereas presence of arsenic can be linked to the cancer. Children are especially vulnerable to water-borne diseases such as diarrhea, worm infections, typhoid, and hepatitis A. Some of these diseases can have long term effects on physical, mental and educational development of children. A report reveals the fact that the mortality rate of children under-five due to ill-water conditions is 101 per 1000 children and diarrheal infections kill 2 million every year. It is significant to note here that 50micrograms of arsenic in water are okay for the Pakistani consumers where international standard allows only 10 micrograms. Public demands governments to prioritize the issues accordingly.
Safe drinking water is one of the basic necessities but our policy makers are unable to provide this basic facility to the majority of masses. The issue of unhygienic drinking water and threat of scarcity of clean drinking water indeed constitute one of the biggest challenges to the society. This threat by no means is smaller than other major threats because this threat has been taking million of lives every year. Having paid attention to the water crisis, thousands of Pakistani children can be prevented from dying. Ensuring smooth provision of this most basic necessity to the deprived people should be among the top priorities of government.
Governments must focus more on providing such necessities to the public rather than indulging into revamping the infrastructure for their personal ends. It’s a time to rally on the actual issues than to wallow in to the negative confrontations.