In Pakistan, the Ravi River has degraded significantly. The communities of the Ravi Basin have a different vision for the future of the river. Much progress may be accomplished through water treatment and river restoration, but people and organizations must do their share to protect the Ravi. The River Ravi Eco-Revitalization Master Plan is a detailed road map for realizing the collective's vision.
The Ravi River is one of five tributaries of the Indus River that give Punjab its name (also known as the Land of the Five Rivers). Tens of millions of Punjab inhabitants rely on it for survival. It's basin has a population of 52 MILLION PEOPLE. Ravi and its network of nullahs are the lifeline that connects and serves homes and businesses dispersed across Pakistan's most populated province. The local word for natural streams and drainage systems that have been turned into open sewers over time is nullah. Lahore, where the population has increased by 60% in the previous ten years, is home to 10% of Punjabis who rely on the River Ravi. A handful of other large cities make up the urban balance.
The ecosystem of Ravi has been strained beyond its limits as a result of rapid population increase and powerful economic development, threatening the livelihoods of millions of Punjabis and eliminating essential ecological services that might support the economy. The river is confronted with a complicated set of difficulties that endangers its population and their livelihoods, including:
- Diversion of headwaters
- Unjust agricultural and industrial practices
- A critical mismatch exists between the basin's rivers and its population.
- Changes in groundwater levels and contamination
- Inadequate wastewater treatment, as well as poor environmental management
Due to the sheer population explosion, high industrialization, rapid urbanization, lack of wastewater treatment, and little regulation of water use, large amounts of residential, industrial, and agricultural wastewater, as well as toxic effluents, are discharged directly into nearby nullahs from almost every region of the basin. Human-made and natural nullahs, seen as drains by locals, transport industrial wastes and sewage from big metropolitan centers such as Lahore, Sheikhupura, Faisalabad, and Sahiwal, as well as smaller towns and villages, into the River Ravi. Smaller nullahs are also polluted as a result of unauthorized "multi-purposing." The state of the River Ravi and its nullahs poses a major danger to the health of those who live in the basin. Because of widespread pollution, water-borne and water-washed (skin) illnesses affect people of all ages. Also, this untreated waste water is used by the farmers for irrigation purposes situated near or next to river. Thus this produce harvested through this polluted water goes into our food chain which Lahore eat on everyday basis.
To address these issues, the Punjab government launched the Ravi River Urban Development Project ("RRUDP") along the Ravi's bank in Lahore. The Ravi Development Authority, established by an act of Parliament in July 2020, was launched on September 16, 2020, by Prime Minister Imran Khan. The Ravi Urban Development Authority (RUDA) seeks to develop the province's urban areas into sustainable, livable, and well-managed economic growth engines. Long-term, comprehensive, and strategic metropolitan planning is closely linked to urban growth and management. Rapid urbanization has influenced both the socioeconomic and physical elements of cities throughout time.
The major goal of RUDA is to address the hazards to River Ravi in general and Lahore in particular, and to do so, to build water reservoirs and water treatment facilities beside the river bed to preserve water. RUDA is also constructing a sustainable city utilizing current technology to preserve environment and create new land marks for the country in order to attract visitors, investors, and improve urban housing in a planned way. To cater these challenges RUDA has planned considerable number of projects to resolve the threats to environment and ecosystem to Ravi River.
Which are as follows:
1. Waste Water Treatment Plants:
As Installing 7 treatment plants to overcome water pollution & toxic substances from river’s water making it safe for irrigation & daily use.
2. Eco Friendly Zones:
Preserving nature & fighting with global warming through special echo friendly zones & urban forests managed and controlled by advanced technologies like AI & Data Analytics.
Constructing Seven barrages to control urban flooding.
4. Modern Water Management System
Introducing modern waste management system to promote recycling industry & circular economies in the country for the very first time.
5. Waste to Energy
As Signed MOUs with Dutch & British company to generate power from waste.
6. Water Reservoirs
Building water reservoirs to elevate the underground water level of Lahore.
The direct and indirect benefits from this initiative are:
- Increased agricultural productivity and efficiency
- More sustainable farming practices
- Generating new job opportunities
- Additional revenue from commercial opportunities created by the masterplan
- Improved habitat quality and biodiversity
- Value of technical expertise in wastewater treatment, natural ecosystem management and protection
- Health benefits; Fewer cases of diarrhea, malaria, and skin diseases will reduce mortality, illness, and productivity losses.
- Efficient water use; Using less water minimizes the requirement for capital expenditures and running costs to cover increasing water supply and treatment for municipal, industrial, and agricultural reasons.
- Savings from:
- Improved flood and climate change resilience
- Reduced erosion and improved soil retention.
- Physical and mental well-being of residents resulting from lower environmental risk and more opportunities of outdoor physical activity.
However, despite vast experience research and reports, governments, organizations, and the community as a whole have failed to comprehend the issues and repercussions that we are all facing, and which our future generations will be most affected by this ecological degradation. The question is what we can do as a community to mitigate these problems. This, I believe, can be accomplished through a bottom-up strategy in which every member of the community plays a role.