Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO) launched a campaign on Lahore and our responsibilities.
According to SPO, issues such as the environment, smoke, water pollution and sanitation are an integral part of the campaign. SPO promotes young people from universities through their social action projects and they will play their part to clean up and green Lahore. About 70 percent of Pakistan’s people depend directly or indirectly on groundwater for their livelihoods, the Participatory Strengthening Organization said.
According to Shahnawaz Khan, regional coordinator, more than 60% of the population of Pakistan does not have access to drinking water. The people of Lahore depend on groundwater, unfortunately the groundwater has become polluted. The issue of groundwater is multiple and complex in its nature. He said the groundwater level has dropped to 100 feet. He added that salt water was included in table water due to unplanned pumping. According to him, the Ravi River was only a natural aquifer but it stays dry almost all year round except during the monsoon season. He further added that natural recharge of underground aquifers is almost negligible due to construction activities and road and street paving.
In addition, untreated water had been discharged into the Ravi River, polluting it. He said that solid waste factories contribute a lot to water pollution, the government must take note and these factories should be dumped outside Lahore in landfills. The color of the water has become yellowish and fragrant. He said heavy metals were also found in groundwater samples and the concentration of lead (Pb), nickel (Ni) and a number of levels of E. coli exceeded authorized drinking water quality limits. He said that Lahore is a hub of industrial activities and its groundwater has become polluted. He said a wide range of pollutants generated by natural and human activities contribute to groundwater degradation in the region. Groundwater extraction is increasing as the population grows and overexploitation of the aquifer leads to lower groundwater levels
The regional coordinator added that the metropolitan city in Punjab province is choking with smog, caused in part by smoke from brick kilns and steel mills, burning rice stubble and garbage, growing number of vehicles on the road and large-scale tree losses. as the expanding city makes way for new roads and buildings. Air pollution has increased in the city and could be controlled by reducing vehicles on the roads. He presented a solution that civil servants should use public vehicles and students in schools, colleges and universities should use public transport. He also suggested that in private offices, a pooling system should be adopted to reduce air pollution.
Shahnawaz said sometimes heaps of garbage appeared on the city’s roads. It must be discouraged and requires prompt action. According to him, metropolitan cities should be clean and green all the time. Sanitary workers have to carry garbage everywhere they see, moreover, citizens have to play their part to clean up the city. Citizens of Lahore should not litter the streets. Garbage must be deposited in places set by the government. After that, it has to be taken to dumps.
He said as the world has become technologically advanced, we should learn from their experiences. Electricity could be generated using garbage. He added that it was found that uncollected garbage had been scattered on the roads, especially in popular and medium-sized localities. Garbage was also observed in commercial and residential communities. He said that Lahore Waste Management Company is doing its best to transport garbage and make Lahore clean, but there is a need to strengthen its role and vigilance.
Punjab Environmental Protection Minister Bao Muhammad Rizwan said collective efforts must be made to eradicate the growing problem of environmental degradation. Therefore, there is a need to create awareness at the local level. He said the department recommended giving environmental education to students up to 5th grade and integrating 20 points for higher education students, which contribute to pollution eradication. Professor Dr. Sajid Rashid, Senior College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, PU warned that environmental pollution will be a serious challenge in the next decade, so there is a need to ban the use of plastic bags.