Environmental degradation in Pakistan

Upon witnessing prosperity in the West, many countries like Pakistan adopted a policy of industrialization, regarding it as essential for a country’s rapid increasing population which as of 2016 is estimated at 193.2 million. This development however has not been environmentally sustainable with natural resources being depleted at an alarming rate. Atmospheric contamination, deterioration in the state of pure water, abnormal change in climatic conditions and other environmental issues are all inter-linked in Pakistan, one calamity follows another. The catastrophic events of 2010 floods are widely regarded as a corroboration of this fact.

No environmental issue is of greater concern to the Pakistani society than water pollution. Faced with water scarcity and unable to remove the harmful components, unclean water ingestion contributes to 40% deaths annually as 80% of Pakistan’s population consumes contaminated water. Left with insanitary and unhygienic conditions, diseases like diarrhea, typhoid, dysentery, cholera and hepatitis are endemic not only in the rural communities but also in the urban areas.

90% of the industrial waste from Karachi, Pakistan’s largest and most populated metropolis is dumped into the Arabian Sea disrupting   marine life and having an adverse effect on the ecosystem. In the absence of adequate water treatment plants, up to 90% of the water being supplied to the city is unfit for human consumption. Presence of E Coli, Giardia and Salmonella infections are the repercussions of untreated municipal sewage water mingling with drinking water pipelines. With the provision of untreated water, brain-eating amoeba has become an emerging threat as 41% of the water has no chlorine – the only defense against the deadly pathogen. Tainted with bacterial and fecal contamination, drinking water claims the lives of 20,000 children annually in Karachi. Having the highest child mortality rate in the world, every year 250,000 children under the age of 5 years die in Pakistan due to waterborne diseases with diarrhea being the leading cause of death. It has been estimated that such diseases are costing the national economy a staggering $1.3 billion yearly.

The consequence of confronting terrorism along with constant pressure for economic growth has led the State to, unfortunately, neglect environmental preservation; however, at a critical time when the natural deposits are being exhausted, the need for an environmentally sustainable development is greater than ever. To identify the effects of pollution during development, an Environmental Impact assessment (EA) must be undertaken to determine eco-efficiency of a project. Through Laws and Legislation, industries should be bound to recycle effluent waste that could be used for Irrigation and Agricultural purposes. A strict policy must be enforced upon giant water corporations to stop them from draining mineral-enriched water that renders the area barren and leads to water scarcity. 100 million cases of diarrhea each year and other waterborne diseases can only decline if a multi-barrier system is installed at water treatment plants to filter-out deadly pollutants. With the assistance of advanced technology we can determine which supply line of water has been compromised with contaminated particles; this early warning system can be effective in eradicating waterborne diseases. An orderly monitoring of water distribution resources through control and command approach would make sure that the water contains satisfactory chlorine levels to ward off pathogenic parasites. Faced with uncertain climatic conditions, the need of preserving the monsoon precipitation through a systematic construction of new barrages and reservoirs has risen. Owing to which, the impending menace of water shortage can be subdued during the years of drought.

The State has much to endeavor with its additional battles. Henceforth, public participation should also be encouraged to ward off the ominousness of desecration which is laborious but rewarding for a healthier Pakistan!

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