LAHORE - The River Ravi Commission (RRC) held a consultative seminar on the treatment of heavy metals in sewage on Thursday at FC College.

The meeting was called by the RRC Chairman Dr Kausar Abdullah Malik and attended by members of the RRC as well as sewage treatment experts.

The River Ravi Commission was formed on the order of the Lahore High Court passed in Public Interest Litigation Association of Pakistan vs Government of Punjab earlier this year. 

The court had directed the commission to prepare a report on what strategies could be adopted to counter the pollution to the River Ravi caused by unchecked pollution and discharge of industrial effluents. The River Ravi is the most polluted river in Pakistan and pollution has destroyed the ecological balance of the river, which is now no more than a sludge carrier.

The Commission comprises the Advocate General Punjab, the Secretary, Environment Protection Department, Director General, Environment Protection Agency, Lahore Commissioner, Water and Sanitation Agency Managing Director, WWF – Pakistan Director General, Dr Vakar Zakrya, Kamil Khan Mumtaz and Ahmad Rafay Alam.

Prof AR Saleemi, Member Technical of the Punjab Environment Tribunal gave the overview of the challenges facing effluent treatment. He promoted the implementation of pre-treatment of effluent by industry and suggested various steps the Commission could take to best approach the issue of sewage treatment. 

Dr Asma Saeed of PCSIR gave a presentation on heavy metals removal by bio-absorption and Dr Qaiser M Khan gave a presentation on Bioremediation technologies on heavy metal.

Ali Hassan Habib, DG WWF – Pakistan, proposed a five-step recovery and way-forward plan. Dr Kausar Abdullah Malik thanked the participants for their input. A Sub-Committee of the RRC will be submitting its report on sewage treatment technologies and this will form part of the report the Commission will submit to the Lahore High Court for further orders. The attendees stressed the need for industry to comply with the law and to treat effluent before discharging it into water bodies. The meeting was also attended by Dr Saeed Iqbal Zafar, Zamir Soomro of PCRWR and faculty from FC College and LUMS University.

WWF – Pakistan is the only non-governmental organisation currently a member of the Ravi Commission.