Report on sewage and sanitation: ‘City risking an epidemic breakout’
* Senior WASA official rejects report
* Sources say Elahi’s orders not being followed up
By Khawaja Naseer
LAHORE: Serious epidemics such as cholera and diarrhoea could break out in the city’s western parts because of the use of polluted water, said a report issued by Lokh Sangat, a non-government organisation, United Christian Hospital and Government Munshi Hospital at the Lahore Press Club on Sunday.
The report on sewage and the sanitation system in the area claimed that 24 people were killed three months ago by an epidemic that broke out in the city’s western part, which includes the suburbs of Data Gunj Buksh Town and consists of Marzipura, Malipura, Charagh Park, Kasurpura and Ravi Colony.
But, Lahore’s Water And Sanitation Agency (WASA) Deputy Managing Director Pervaiz Iftikhar rejected the report highlighting the department’s negligence in this regard. However, WASA sources told Daily Times the Punjab chief minister had allocated Rs 60 million for replacing the sanitation system and installing four new tube-wells but the issue had not been followed up.
The report said that Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi had formed a coordination committee on June 29, to be supervised by senior Punjab Health Department doctors, to resolve the issue of polluted water and other sanitation matters. The report also presented the views of the department’s Epidemic Control Officer Dr Masood Ashraf. According to the report, Ashraf said, “The threat of an epidemic outbreak can not be removed in these areas until new tube-wells are installed and the sanitation system is properly replaced.”
The report claimed that WASA failed to provide the residents of the area with clean drinking water despite the chief minister’s order, adding that even the old sewage system had not been changed.
According to the report, the areas’ residents said that polluted water was the biggest issue facing them and hundreds of people had different diseases because of it. They said the issue came to head a few years back when WASA tried to replace old sewage pipes, adding that the agency’s staff left the work incomplete. They added that new tube-wells were installed in the areas during the first phase of construction of the Lahore Ring Road, but they were not deep enough and polluted water was still being supplied in the area.
Talking to Daily Times, Lahore’s WASA Deputy Managing Director Pervaiz Iftikhar said the water was being polluted in the service pipes and replacing them was the responsibility of the consumers. He said the agency had planned a comprehensive programme, under the directions of the chief minister, to upgrade the sewage and sanitation system of these localities, adding that four new tube-wells would be installed in these areas.