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News & Events

Feburary 02, 2010

A pledge to revive Keenjhar Lake

Keenjhar Lake, situated in district Thatta of Sindh Province in Pakistan became of the point of concern during this year’s World Wetlands Day celebrations in Karachi, took place on 02 February 2010. The flagship event of the celebrations was a consultative workshop on Keenjhar Lake organized jointly by the Indus for All Programme of WWF Pakistan and the Livestock and Fisheries Department, Government of Sindh.  A group of eminent scientists, senior government officials and representatives of civil society, academia, media and industries took part in the deliberations, chaired by Mr. Munawar Opal, the Additional Chief Secretary Government of Sindh.

The forum provided a unique opportunity to all the key stakeholders to interact face-to-face and put forward their view points and recommendations.  “Keenjhar Lake for its multi-faceted status ranging from a wildlife sanctuary to a Ramsar Site and a drinking water source for millions of residents of one of the world’s largest metropolis involves numerous departments in its management and operations along with multiple beneficiaries. Hence it is challenging as well as imperative to make coordinated efforts”, explained by Dr. Ghulam Akbar, Regional Director of WWF – Pakistan. 

“The lake has steadily declined in both productivity and its freshwater resources chiefly on account of chemical pollution, over fishing and eutrophication”, stated by Dr. Laiq Ahmed Memon, Secretary Livestock & Fisheries Department, Sindh. He further added that “the chemical wastes from 85 industries of SITE Kotri, along with Nooriabad Industrial Area and  raw sewage from district Jamshoro, part of district Dadu and Thatta flow into the Lake through the Kalri Bagar Feeder and some natural drains (nullahs). The S.I.T.E Limited Authorities have constructed oxidation ponds over 42.0 acres of land, however, these oxidation ponds cannot serve the purpose as they are not capable of treating chemical effluent.” He suggested for industrial waste water treatment at appropriate locations.

According to survey 29 industries in SITE Kotri are the major polluters, informed by Mir Hussain Ali, the Secretary Environment & Alternate Energy Department, Sindh. “The polluting industries will be tried before an Environmental Tribunal in the next 8-10 weeks” he added. He suggested constituting a dedicated authority to deal with important wetlands in the Province in addition to install a water quality monitoring system at Keenjhar Lake.

Dr. Aijaz Rasool, while presenting the findings of a study revealed that the slightly elevated concentrations of certain heavy metal ions in a few water samples indicate untreated discharge of industrial effluents and agricultural run off. Both Keenjhar and Haleji have an excessive bacterial growth against the recommended levels. He suggested removing unnecessary growth of plants and extra aquatic weeds in and around Haleji and Keenjhar lakes.

“About 75% effluents of the Kotri Industrial Area are disposed off into the baran area (natural drains) while 25% flows through KB Feeder”, expressed by Mr. Tauqeer Tariq, Chairman Kotri Association of Trade and Industry. He request ACS to have a combined treatment plant so that the Kotri area receives clean water. “One independent industry cannot afford to install a combined treatment plant, association is willing to come on board with the government to address the contamination problem” he added, and said the industry is principally agreed that NEQS should be followed.

Mr. Fazal Nizamani and Mr. P.S Rajani from Sindh P&D Department, Dr. Mumtaz Sohag from Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority, Mr.  G. N Mughal Journalist, Mr. Khalid Mehmood Shaikh, Director, Finance Department, Mr. Mohsin Babar from KTN/FEJP, G.M Irshad Hussain from Pak Oasis and Dr. Altaf Abro, Rab Nawaz and Nasir Ali Panhwar from WWF Pakistan also spoke on the occasion and presented their department’s views and recommendations.

While concluding the deliberations, the Additional Chief Secretary Sindh assured the forum to take up the establishment of a wetlands management authority through P&D and other stakeholders. “At present, Thatta DCO act as coordinating officer across agencies for the preservation of Keenhar and Haleji Lake”, he said.  He also informed the forum that a high powered committee has already been constituted with members including the Chairman WAPAD, ACS, Senior Chief P&D and PEPCO to look into the matter of water reservoirs in Sindh such Chotiari, Keenjhar, Manchar and Haleji Lakes. “The committee is mandated to oversee the creation of small dams; protection via legislation or implementation of remedial measures and enhance the capacity of local populations” he added.

The forum, after intense discussions reached some recommendations: 1) The Government of Sindh should notify Keenjhar Coordination Committee for the better management of Keenjhar Lake comprising of the members including provincial secretaries of  Livestock & Fisheries,  Irrigation & Power, Environment & Alternate Energy and Industries Departments; Conservator Sindh Wildlife Department; Public Private Partnership Unit, Finance Department ; DCO Thatta; Kotri SITE Association; Karachi Water and Sewerage Board, WWF Pakistan, UNDP- GEF/ SGP and Friends of Indus Forum;  2) Government of Sindh should set up an endowment fund for the rehabilitation and up keep of  Keenjhar Lake;  3) KWSB should contribute 1% income from water collection fee for the improvement of Keenjhar Lake; 4) Kotri SITE Association should also preferably contribute into endowment fund under their Corporate Social Responsibility programmes; 5) Kotri SITE should install primary treatment plants for treatment of industrial effluents; 6) Public Private Partnership Unit of Government of Sindh should develop Keenjhar Resort in accordance with the rules and regulations of Wildlife Sanctuary that demands such construction at least two kilometer away (outside of buffer zone);  and 7) Install nets at the inlet and outlet of the Lake to stop the release of fish seed

For further Information:

Nasir Ali Panhwar, Programme Coordinator, Indus for All Programme, WWF – Pakistan
Contact: 0300 3079491,  napanhwar@gmail.com

Muhammad Zafar Khan, Manager Communications and Environmental Education
Contact: 0300-3495901, email: zafar.hilbi@gmail.com

Badrunnisa Tunio, Communications Officer, Indus for All Programme, WWF – Pakistan, arshi_mtunio@yahoo.com




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