by Shafqat Hussain, Sukkur, Sindh
Courtesy: Daily Dawn, 22.10.09
While discussing hazards of environmental contamination faced by the metropolis, the Minister for Environment Sindh disclosed before the provincial assembly question answer session some serious threats our sweet water lakes are facing. He stated that Manchar, the biggest shallow water natural Lake of Pakistan, situated at district Dadu is dying fast because of high ratio of lead contents added contentiously in its waters.
This natural lake is a vast depression flanked by the Khirthar hills in the west, the Laki hills in the south and the river Indus in the east. At the time of heavy rainfall the lake extends northwest with the result that it covers an area of about 100 Sq. miles or nearly 64000 acres. Manchar being a large natural body of fresh water is a major resource in an arid region of western Sindh. Before its pollution, Manchar helped to maintain various economic activities of the region substantially. It provided livelihood for large number of fishermen families and supplied irrigation water to various crops spread over vast area besides a great source of aquatic plants including lotus and temporary abode for migratory birds coming from the north. The lake could have even contributed a lot in boosting up tourism industry had its beautification was adequately maintained.
Unfortunately increased human activities sans proper maintenance degraded the lake significantly. The proverbial role of ‘last nail in the coffin’ was played by construction of most criticized Right Bank Outfall Drainage-I (RBOD-I) that brought highly contaminated and saline water from Baluchistan in the main Lake. This mindless act of authorities not only destroyed the lake by toxic discharge but has become a perpetual source of poisoning even Indus when this contaminated overflowing water is released in the River during monsoon.
The country presently is facing severe water shortage which in the approaching times will be extremely grave because of abnormal melting of Himalayan glaciers and less than normal rainfalls as forecast by the metrological department; again thanks to deforestation of province done by landlords with the active connivance of forest authorities. At this critical juncture destruction of Lakes like Manchar will cause another blow of colossal proportion to our already dwindling sweet water resources.
Looking to the enormity of problem government must complete second phase of RBOD expeditiously and also form a team of high-powered team of experts on water, involving local NGOs to survey all the lakes of province including Manchar and recommend appropriate suggestions so as to reclaim these sweet water resources without delay.