LAHORE - Highly toxic Hudiara water is poisoning the food of Lahorites who are vulnerable to various diseases. They are consuming vegetables, rice and corn irrigated with industrial effluents over 4,000 acres of land on both sides of the Hudiara Drain.

According to a report of Environmental Protection Agency, farmers are using 70 pumps for raising rice, corn, vegetables and fodder from Hudiara Drain upstream along Ferozepur Road to Mohlanwal on Multan Road before the highly polluted drain joining the River Ravi.

There are 60 water lifting pumps installed in upstream of Hudiara Drain, three in downstream from Kahna Katcha to Hallo Ke Phatak and seven near Mohlanwal.

Hudiara Drain, a storm water channel, originates from Batala in India and enters Pakistan at village Laloo. After flowing about 53.6 kilometres, it joins the River Ravi. Sattukatla Drain and Charar Drain also join Hudiara Drain which is highly polluted due to disposal of untreated industrial effluents and sewerage both in India and Pakistan.

As many as 330 industrial units are discharging untreated wastewater in Hadiara Drain and 103 in Charar Drain. As many as 379 units in Quaid-e-Azam Industrial Estate (QIE) are discharging effluent in Sattokatla Drain. Only 42 industries have installed treatment plants and rest of the units are discharging untreated toxic waste in Hudiara Drain and its two tributaries Charar and Sattokatla Drain.

Environment Protection Department’s plan of setting up combined waste-water treatment plants at industrial estates have yet to be implemented. Under the plan, clusters of different industries were to be charged according to the type and volume of effluent they discharge.

As per the officials, Hudiara water have traces of phosphorus, sulphur, copper, cadmium, chromium, lead, zinc, manganese, mercury and other toxic materials and its continuous use is not suitable for raising agricultural crops due to consequences on human health and soil environment.

Consumption of vegetables, rice and corn raised on untreated industrial wastewater can develop short and long term health related complications. Consumption of milk and meat of animals taking contaminated fodder is also hazardous for human health. People could develop dysentery, cholera, skin diseases and even cancer in case of prolonged use of contaminated vegetables.

When contacted, District Officer Environment Younas Zahid said that checking illegal pumping of water from drain was the responsibility of Irrigation Department.

“EPA can take action against industries for discharging untreated wastewater. We are doing this practice on regular basis that has caused installation of 42 treatment plants. Irrigation Department can check illegal lifting of water,” he said. “We removed over 100 illegal pumps on Hudiara Drain eight year back and that action was taken under PLGO-2001,” he said.