By YASIR HABIB KHAN submitted 14 hours 22 minutes ago
LAHORE - As Wasa is yet to come up with an appropriate plan to provide clean water to Lahorites, water-born diseases especially gastroenteritis are likely to break out in the City. It is feared that if Wasa continues to overlook fractional increase in gastro, situation can go out of control.
It is irony that every year on the arrival of monsoon water-born diseases play havoc with the lives of people specially children, but Wasa authorities remain unsuccessful to coop with the situation. As mixing of contaminated water from worn out sewerage pipelines into rusty water pipes is regarded as main reason of gastro which aggravates during monsoon, Wasa had planned to replace 706 kilometres long rusty water pipes with high-density long-lasting poly-ethylene pipes costing a total of Rs1.3 billion.
Since the plan dashed to ground, problem of mix-up of drinking water with waste material remained unchecked, making thousands of people who use this piped water exposed to numerous water related diseases.
Sources revealed that to ensure clean drinking water under the special package of then Chief Minister Punjab Ch Pervaiz Elahi, project for replacement of water pipelines was started two years back. As many as 17 new water bouzers were also added to Wasa’s existing fleet standing at 22 for supplying clean drinking water to the affected areas in case of emergencies. Wasa also made arrangements for procuring 250 new chlorinators with a view to ensure supply of potable water to the people. But, the project of providing clean drinking water got standstill due to reasons best known to higher authorities, they added.
It may be recalled that under ‘Clean Drinking Water Initiative’ of the federal government to ensure provision of potable water to every Pakistani under the directives of President Musharraf, 10 water filtration plants have been installed in different localities. But due to not replacement of carbon filters, they have been unable to purify the water, hence contamination is increasing in water day by day.
Though under the directives of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, a six-member committee headed by Wasa Vice Chairman Bilal Yaseen is deadly engaged to firm up a strategy to improve Wasa function by starting crash programme to ensure quick flush out of rainwater, but not a single thought has been given to provide clean water to consumers.
It is learnt that the City clinics and paediatric emergencies of public and private hospitals have started registering gastroenteritis cases including diarrhoea, cholera and dysentery over the last few days while Mayo Hospital has received about 65 more patients with gastroenteritis signs. And if the situation remains same, water born diseases may break out.
Despite spending millions of rupees on projects of installation of water filtration plants, replacement of rusty water supply lines, collection of water samples daily and purification of water through chlorination, the provision of clean water is still a distant dream for Lahorites.
According to United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) report, 47 per cent drinking water in Lahore is unhealthy, contaminated with health hazardous ‘micro organisms and chemicals,’ creating serious health problems. Contrary to the facts, Wasa has termed the water being supplied to the consumers as fit and best for daily use.
Wasa official seeking anonymity said it was observed that water was usually relatively clean at the source, but had become contaminated by the time it reached the end users.
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The Chinese authorities are taking no chances: 100,000 troops, anti-aircraft missiles, checkpoints ringing the city. Beijing’s Olympics, they say, are the most threatened by terrorists in history. Evidence for this is thin. China says it has arrested 82 “suspected terrorists” in the western region of Xinjiang for allegedly plotting to sabotage the games. On July 9th two terrorists were reportedly executed there. A day earlier police killed five people in a raid on a “holy-war training group” in the region’s capital, Urumqi. The suspects “wielded knives”, a police spokesman said. Not exactly dirty bombs, but you have to start somewhere.
What worries Chinese officials is the risk of yet more political embarrassment after a round-the-world tour of the Olympic torch was dogged by protests. Even slogans on T-shirts make them fret. Spectators at the games have been banned from wearing “I love China” T-shirts (lest, presumably, anyone thinks they can get away with “I love Tibet”). Under pressure from foreign television networks, the government has reversed its ban on live broadcasts by the foreign media from Tiananmen Square, the city’s most sensitive site. But it is insisting on limited hours and no invited guests—ie, no dissidents.
Officials say that, notwithstanding Beijing’s semi-permanent shroud of haze, air quality is improving and should get even better. For two months, beginning on July 20th, drivers will only be able to use their vehicles on alternate days depending on their licence-plate numbers. The city plans this month to open two new underground-railway lines and a rail link to the airport, which could help reduce car traffic further. The worst-polluting factories in Beijing and its environs are being ordered to cut production or stop work altogether.
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