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River water Contamination problem Letter4

 

I am very grateful to Mr. Khalid for his letter regarding the River water pollution, where he has highlighted a very important environmental issue of Chitral. I fell happy to see this important piece of work regarding a very serious environmental issue of chitral. I am also thanking to Ms Falak Naz and Mr.Saifudin for their keen argument and suggestion on the topic.

Though I am not a specialist on Hydrology, being a Forester but me still realized the significant of the role of River Chitral in supporting of the unique biodiversity of Chitral. As what the previous letter had discussed on the topic, River is a unique type of aquatic ecosystem that provide habitat opportunities for many ecological significant flora and fauns,

Human and other living things depends on water for life and health, yet the world health organization reports that about 8% of the world s people live in pleases where the only available water is unsafe. Water related problems such as over use, scarcity, aquatic pollution, floods and drought are an increasingly important challenge to sustainable development as United National has already recognized in declaring 2005-2015 the Water for Life decade.

River Chitral and its catchments supply a large proportion of all water used for domestic, agricultural and other uses. River Chitral also support habitat for two species of exotic and nine species of indigenous fish, especially the upper areas where trout fish have been surviving which contribute to the economy of the area by creating employment opportunities and a perfect diet for locals and supporting eco-tourism in the area.

Unfortunately water of River Chitral is contaminated by a number of sources due to deforestation in the catchments area as the availability and quality of water are strongly influenced by forest, unplanned construction of buildings, dumping and throwing of solid/municipal waste and discharge of sewerage water in to River Chitral all leads to serious aquatic pollution and result degrading the River Biodiversity of the area.


Due to less attention given to environmental degradation of river Chitral due to which the water has been contaminated badly. Hence, sewerage water discharge from municipal and residential areas, dumping and throwing of solid municipal and hospital effluent in River needs controlling measures to combat Aquatic pollution. Secondly, unplanned construction of buildings and encroachments along the river not only affect scenic value but result in pollution of water, which also need effective control mechanism.

In many watershed areas un control grazing , degradation of forest resources, increase in demands for fuel-wood, and other forest products have also contributed to dwindling wildlife population in the District.

Here I want to put some suggestion on the topic, which I feel will be useful to combat the problem,

* Plantation with fast growing species is needed on large scale along the river as well as in the catchments areas. Through these activities soil erosion and sedimentation can be controlled.
* There is a need to control both solid and liquid waste pollution at source and prevent its disposal into River. Proper sanitation system is needed
* As poverty is the major cause of degradation of up stream and down stream watersheds in the district and there is a need to enhance the livelihood of these marginalized communities living in the catchments areas of River Chitral. The income of these marginalized communities can be enhanced by providing them gainful employment through trout fish farming; beekeeping and other non-timber forest produce related enterprises. Promotion of horticultural plants and plantation forest plants on the catchment’s area of the river and exposed slopes of hills this will increase their productivity and reduce soil erosion.
* Retaining walls should be constructed along the river banks at the feasible locations to check normal flow of the river and to protect its banks from degradation.
* Sewerage water is a threat to human and aquatic life due to poisoning and contamination of water. To combat this problem, there is need to construct septic tanks in all major areas located around the river. Awareness of local communities, building owners regarding effect of drainage discharge into river system is a must.
* Owners of marble industries in chitral should be directed to construct sedimentation tanks in the premises of their industries so that industrial effluent may settle down before entering into the river.
* A detailed survey is needed in order to analyze the physical, chemical and biological properties of River Chitral. It includes pH, alkalinity, conductivity, COD, BOD, total solid contents, TDS, TSS, E.coli contents and heavy metals etc. There is a need of complete profile of the river biodiversity, including fish, fauna and flora of the river.
* There is a need to make women segments of the area aware about sanitation, collection and handling of waste at house level, use of detergents and over all environmental issues.
* Community awareness drive should be launched among people living around river chitral and its tributaries.
* There is a need for a debate on Environmental Condition of River Chitral and its possible solution in the opportunity such like National and Provincial Assembly, District Conservation Committee and as well as other forums.
* Implementation of the Environmental laws through EPA in Chitral is critical necessary.

Ajaz Ahmed
Chitral

09 May 2010

 

 

River water Contamination problem Letter3

 

After a long time I came across something which interests me a lot—a discussion on how to make our area eco-friendly?
Way back in 2003 when I joined CAMAT as part of an eco-tourism project I realized that Chitral needed a complete “overhaul” in terms of hygiene conditions. There prevailed no awareness at all regarding the harmful impacts of environmental degradation, pollution etc. CAMAT had to do something for it as part of its ToR. In short, discussions, meetings, re-discussions took place with the district administration and local government on several occasions but to no avail. The bureaucracy was not ready to see a change. The Municipality which was headed by a TMO whose prime job was to provide civic facilities to the town people was against any initiative whatsoever. After much deliberations trash bins were installed in various places of the town including public places such as hospitals with a promise from the local govt. that they will dump the trash. The area which was shown to CAMAT for the purpose was Lenik on the right side away from bank of river Chitral opposite to Balach-a perfect area for such purposes away from the local population. It was observed within months that instead of dumping the trash there, it was being dumped in the Chitral River once a week loaded on trolleys of the Municipal Corporation of Chitral. Upon our intervention they stopped doing so but at the cost of leaving the trash as it is in the installed dustbins thus people stopped using them and eventually these trash bins vanished from the scene. Here I must admit that instead of leaving the responsibility of dumping to the local government if CAMAT could itself have done it, it may have been sustainable to some extent.


CAMAT also introduced cloth bags on a trial basis for purchasing purposes in order to discourage the plastic shopping bags so that people could take these bags with them to the marketplace when they go shopping but it didn’t prove successful. The acceptance for change is found very little amongst Chitralies. I have seen residents cleaning their own houses and throwing the trash out in the open near their houses completely ignoring sense of community and rights of the neighbors to live a healthy and hygienic life.
 

The following is a glimpse of what can be done:
1. A resolution should be passed in the local district assembly banning all forms of plastic to enter Chitral. Its use should be banned in district Chitral and be replaced with paper bags,
2. The town planning as suggested by the IUCN-PK Chitral Strategy should be implemented in letter and spirit,
3. The district government with the help of INGOs should provide Chitral town with a recycling plant,
4. Go green campaign should be promoted in Chitral as a whole,
5. An annual best practices award should be given to those who show their commitment to the cause of eco-friendly environment, and
6. A general awareness campaign should be jointly launched by the govt. and NGOs in collaboration with LSOs, local societies, schools and other community organizations to promote the cause of eco friendly environment. This should be in the form of practical activities excluding walks, talks and promises. Rather it should be a well defined campaign with achievable goals within certain deadlines.
 

Saifuddin
Murder, Chitral.

07 May 2010

 

 

River water Contamination problem Letter2

 

This is in response to Mr. Khalids letter where he has highlighted an issue that can turn into a menace if not taken care of now. I am happy to see that our youth are not only highlighting issues but are also coming up with solutions to deal with it.


What is sustainable development; to me it is the process in which community enhances its environment, social, cultural and economic resources in such a way to create positive outcomes for its members. In a way that it not only supports current generation but also the future community members in their pursuit of healthy, productive and happy lives.


The Chitral district is in transition period leaving many villages in an institutional vacuum, the old system is gone and new system is not yet in place or not working and local coping strategies are eroding.


In order to sustain and improve life, we must simultaneously support human health, our environment and society. It is an established fact that human, environmental and economic well-being are interdependent.
Therefore all the stakeholder local government, community, NGOs, health departments all need to explore the links between human health and the environment in order to improve understanding, inform public policy, and help people make decisions that lead to better lives.

 

The values like close personal relationships and supportive communities here in Chitral is also at stake. Therefore volunteerism need to be promoted among youth for tasks like clean ups. Researches that adapt to the cultural, geographical and societal setup needs to be carried out and shared with general public. Apart from the river pollution sources which khalid has mentioned, agricultural run-off, or the water from the fields that drains into rivers, is another major water pollutant as it contains fertilizers and pesticides. By having more plants we can preventing fertiliser, pesticides and contaminated water from running off into nearby water sources.The most effective means of limiting aesthetic pollution is by control at source, which will require a change in behaviour by the majority of the public. Legislation, improved public awareness and responsibility needs to be taken at district level to take new ways to design, recover and dispose of litter.
This issue could only be addressed when the community along with all the other stakeholders comes up with a sustainable solution to it, as we all share the same culture and have common interests within the geographical boundaries of Chitral.
Below are just a few of the items (that pollutes water and the river banks) and the amount of time it takes for them to biodegrade or to break down into smaller pieces.
• Newspaper takes 4-6 weeks
• Cotton towel takes 6 months
• Cigarette butt takes 1-5 years
• Plastic bag takes 10-20 years
• Tin can takes 50 years
• Aluminum can takes 80-200 years
• Plastic bottles take 450 years
• Glass bottle takes 1 million years


Falak Naz Taj,
Chitral.

05 May 2010

 

 

River water contamination problem -letter

 

Beauty of Chitral's waters and its lakes has always remained an attraction for migratory birds and contains different species of fish, especially the famous 'Trout.  30% of the total migration from Siberia to Warm waters and back to Siberia takes place through this route. Despite the brutal hunting trend in Chitral still traces of a lot of the birds are found here. Lakes in Chitral are getting contaminated because of the improper disposal of garbage, pouring in its water, day after day, making it poisonous for life.


Balach water Lakes are among the very few and famous non-natural water Lakes of Chitral, attached with River Kabul near Chitral city and Chitral Airport. Its beauty and elegance attracts both wild life and local people of Chitral, who often come with families. Dusk view is the most romantic and awesome and people from nearby villages come here especially to enjoy this beautiful point of time. Due to its central location and closeness to main crowded areas of Chitral i.e. markets, bazaar, hospitals, colleges, schools, town and villages. Wastes and garbage from these places are being thrown directly here at Balach riverside damaging its natural beauty and making it less attractive. The worse part of it is the toxic wastes either coming directly from nearby health clinics, health centers, and hospitals thrown here or the ones which come along with river water from hospitals and health centers situated in upper parts of Chitral. These wastes contains mostly expired medicines, used vaccines, used syringes, medicines packs, pampers, pieces of plasters, blood stained bandages etc. Point to be noted here is; these wastes are not only damaging the beauty of Balach water Lakes and Chitral River but can result in spread of some infectious disease. Many times innocent kids were found collecting and playing with this health hazardous garbage.
 

In Chitral we don’t have any parks or gardens for general public where one could enjoy leisure time with family in peace. People of Chitral need to realize this fact that by contaminating these natural splendours, actually they are doing antagonism with their own future and the future of coming generations.

 

Related Govt. departments and NGO working in this sector should take notice of it before the jinn comes out of bottle and ruins everything. They must ensure proper dumping of the noxious wastes of hospitals and health centers coming here and creating health related issues for the public of Chitral. There must be workshops and seminars where the public should be provided information and given awareness about this severe health issue so that steps at gross root level could be taken; proper disposal of wastes could be ensured and hence this critical hitch could be addressed appropriately. Result would be our natural desire to get fresh atmosphere for healthy breathing again.

 

Khalid Ahmed
Balach Chitral,

02 May 2010.

 

 

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