While discussing hazards of environmental contamination faced by our metropolis, the Minister for Environment of Sindh disclosed in the provincial assembly question-answer session recently about the serious threats to our sweet water lakes. He said that Munchar, the biggest shallow water natural lake in Pakistan situated in district Dadu is dying fast because of high ratio of lead contents being continuously added to its waters. This natural lake is a vast depression flanked by the Khirthar Hills in the west, the Laki Hills in the south and River Indus in the east. During heavy rainfall, the lake extends northwest with the result that it can cover an additional area of about 100 Sq. miles or nearly 64000 acres. Being a large natural body of fresh water, Munchar is a major resource in the arid region of western Sindh. Before its pollution, Munchar 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 areas besides being a great source of aquatic plants including lotus. It was also a repository for migratory birds coming from the north. The lake could have been a huge magnet for local tourism had its beautification was adequately maintained and some facilities added to it but that was never to be. Unfortunately, increased human activities sans proper maintenance have degraded the lake almost terminally. The proverbial 'last nail in its coffin was driven by the construction of the accursed Right Bank Out fall Drainage-I (RBOD-I) that brought highly contaminated and saline water from Balochistan into this lake. This mindless act of authorities not only destroyed the lake dissolution of toxic discharge in it but has become a perpetual source of poisoning of even the mighty Indus when the contaminated overflow of water is released into the river during monsoons. The country is presently facing a severe water shortage which might become extremely grave because of abnormal melting of Himalayan glaciers and less than normal rainfalls as forecast in the region. At this critical juncture, destruction of lakes like Munchar means our land would die of thirst. -SHAFQAT HUSSAIN, Sukkur, October 23.