Vegetables being sold in some of Lahore’s city’s markets have been obtained from agricultural farms being irrigated by untreated, toxic and polluted water of the waste drains.
A story broken by the Daily Times found that large quantities of sewage, and industrial pollutants are discharged into the wastewater drains of the city without prior treatment.
It was discovered that the Environment Protection Department had issued notices to about 250 industrial units and housing societies over discharging untreated water into Hadyara Drain. A year later only 18 had installed the water treatment plants.
Hadyara Drain water has in fact been deemed unfit for irrigation by several environmental bodies as it does not meet the National Environmental Quality Standards (NEQS) devised for industrial effluents.
Hadyara Drain originates from the Indian Punjab and enters Pakistan at village Laloo. It is a stormwater drain used for irrigation and to drain water into the River Ravi. It is the only drain situated in the southern part of Lahore, making the finding even more significant.
WWF Pakistan conducted their own study into the drain, analysing several health hazards connected with the drain. “Investigations have revealed that the water contains high concentration of metals. Long-term irrigation from Hadyara Drain may have resulted in the accumulation of higher concentrations of metals in the surface soil. This could have been toxic for the soil fauna and flora and might have been introduced into the food chain as well,” the study said.
Vegetables contaminated with heavy metals may lead to headache, cramps and nausea. Other studies have found that heavy metal toxins may lead to cancer, renal damage, hepatitis, cardiovascular diseases and nervous system damage.
It is vital that drain water is treated if used for irrigation purposes.