Govt depts polluting canals in Mardan

Arshad Aziz Malik
Wednesday, Oct 13, 2021

PESHAWAR: Some 280 illegal sewer lines dispose of wastewater into the canals of Mardan district. Ironically, besides individuals, government institutions are also involved in polluting the irrigation channels. The Tehsil Municipal Authorities, Water Supply and Sanitation Company and Cantonment Board Mardan have also sewer lines falling into the Kalpani Canal. It is the main canal originating from the Lower Swat and has several branches in Mardan. Thousands of children in Mardan and adjoining areas bathe in the polluted canal, which causes diseases among them.

According to data available with this scribe, the Irrigation Department oversees a diverse canal system in Mardan district, providing irrigation facilities to agriculture land of more than 90,000 acres. The Mardan executive engineer irrigation has recently written a letter to the WSSC CEO, tehsil municipal officer and Cantonment Board executive officer for the stoppage of polluted water into irrigation channels but they failed to take action.

The letter says that the canal system passing through the urban areas of Mardan has badly been contaminated by domestic, industrial, and hospital waste, which is not only polluting the water channels but also causing irretrievable damages to crops being irrigated by their water.

The executive engineer said that under Section 70(8) of the Canal and Drainage Act 1873 and Section 70(5-C) of KP Canal and Drainage (Amendment) Act 2015, anyone who diverts sewer lines towards the canal shall be convicted for a period not less than one year and with a fine of Rs20,000. Information received by the Mardan Irrigation Department under the KP RTI Act 2013 reveals that there are 280 illegal sewer lines constructed by TMA Mardan, WSSC and Cantonment Board, which dispose of wastewater into the canals. The executive engineer further said that the Irrigation Department had undertaken several operations against illegal sewer lines with the help of district administrations and the issue was also taken up with the TMAs and Cantonment Boards as well.

A spokesman for Mardan WSSP said that sewage was thrown into the canals due to the lack of a proper drainage system in most areas. "Initially, sewerage will be constructed in six union councils under phase one of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Cities Improvement Project and the issue would be resolved by February 2022. The PC-1 has been prepared for eight remaining union councils and sent to the provincial government, for which work will begin after the approval and release of funds," he said

A report of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Department of Agriculture and Livestock shows heavy metal contamination of soil, water and vegetables in six major districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa including Mardan. The metals from industrial effluents, hospital waste and domestic wastewater pose serious threats to human health.

The report also revealed that the toxic elements are non-degradable, have long biological half-life, less visible, not metabolised and can cause cardiovascular diseases, cancer and cognitive impairment, anemia, damage kidneys, the nervous system, brain, skin, and bones.