Rusty Wasa supplies polluted water

LAHORE - Contaminated drinking water is posing serious hazards, as the ‘potable’ water is being supplied in the city through rusting pipelines. Though government allocated an ample fund of Rs1.5billion to replace them, the Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) has failed to complete the project.

Among samples taken by PCSIR from various localities of Lahore, water in 84 per cent areas was impure and unfit for human consumption. The PCSIR, in its report, said that sample tests showed a high rate of bacteria, fluoride and arsenic besides colour change.

The PCSIR, in its report, concluded that women and children were worst sufferers of diarrhoea, cholera, jaundice and hepatitis B and C, caused by contaminated water.

Water samples taken from Wahdat Colony, Badami Bagh, Bund Road, Muslim Town, Allama Iqbal Town, Sabzazar Colony, Sherankot, Multan Road, Sandha Kalan, Bhati Gate, Gulshan Ravi, Baghbanpura, McLeod Road, Royal Park, Rewaz Garden, Kot Lakhpat, Madina Town, Ismail Nagar, Shadbagh, Shafiqabad, Ravi Road, Ravi Colony, Shahdara, Model Town, Rasool Park, Thokar Niaz Baig, Liaqatabad, Green Town, Chungi Amar Sadhu, Bakar Mandi and Empress Road was found contaminated and harmful to human health.

An official of Lahore Development Authority (LDA), seeking anonymity said that most of the LDA housing schemes were developed on the sites, filled with solid waste and garbage. He added that the underground rusty pipelines of those schemes, laid for drinking water supply, were also contributing fatal diseases among the residents.

When contacted, Wasa Deputy MD (Operations) Syed Iqtidar Shah said that a gastro package-II project, worth Rs1.5b, had already been prepared by the agency for replacement of rusting pipelines and sent to the Planning and Development Department for the final nod.

“As soon as it approves, Wasa will initiate work on it in the Walled City and other parts of the provincial capital,” he added. On the other hand, a study conducted by medical students in the same regard revealed that a large number of infectious diseases were transmitted primarily through the water supplies contaminated with human and animal excreta. The study was undertaken for the microbiological testing of bottled water used for drinking purposes by the public in the Lahore city.

The report declared that twenty-four samples were collected at investigator’s convenience, while the microbiological testing was performed using the membrane filter technique. Of the 24 samples tested, included in the research were of the following brands: Masafi, Wimbleoon, Sufi, Springley, Blu, Aqua Safe, Natural, Aqua Pure, Aquafina, Pharmagen, Nation, Pure Life, Splash, Kinley, Gourmet, Klinz, Himalaya, IWT, Volvic, Aqua One, Classic, MUM, Premeik, and Aqua, while two (8.3pc) were found to be contaminated with bacteria found in human or animal excreta. Although only 8.3pc samples were found to be unsafe bacteriologically, this emphasises that all bottled waters should not be taken for granted to be safe for consumption and may need to undergo additional processing by the consumers, the report said. One in seven people do not have access to safe drinking water, the report further reveals, adding that safe and wholesome water has been defined as “water that is free from pathogenic agents, free from harmful chemical substances, pleasant to taste and smell”.

In developing countries, such as Pakistan, 60pc of the population has no access to pure drinking water. 88pc of the functional water supply schemes in Pakistan provide water that is unsafe for drinking because of microbiological contamination.

The study further revealed that outbreaks of water borne diseases occur throughout the world but are especially common in developing countries.

The human pathogens, that pose serious risk of diseases if present in the drinking water, include Salmonella species, Shigella species, Yersinia enterocolitica, Campylobacter species and viruses such as Hepatitis A virus, Hepatitis E virus, Rota virus and parasites like Entamoeba histolytica, Giardia lamblia and others.

The study was carried out to determine the current status of bacteriological quality of bottled water available in Lahore city and whether it meets the required standards.

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