Manchar Lake was once a tourist destination, a wetland that was a haven for migratory waterfowl and home to a thriving community of Mohannas and agriculturalists who raised crops around the lake’s shallow bed. Over the years, shortage of rains and the influx of chemical effluents have started playing havoc with the lake and its people - Rina Saeed Khan [DAILY DAWN - 2007]
Fishermen living around the lake are the happiest, as contaminated water from the Right Bank Outfall Drain (RBOD) had poisoned the 233-square-kilometre lake for a long time. “We have been praying for freshwater and cannot believe that it has come in such a large quantity, bringing various kinds of fish,” said fisherman Allah Dino Mallah. “We would have celebrated had there not been such a calamity in other parts of Sindh.” Mustafa Meerani, vice-chairman Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, who lives in Bobak Town, off Manchar Lake, added that the “fishermen treasure freshwater because it revives their culture and provides them with a livelihood”. According to Meerani, the rise in water levels will not threaten people living around the lake. “The lake cannot overflow until the water reaches 120 Reduce Level (RL) and right now there is 112 RL of water,” he explained, adding that there is an increase of two inches in the water level every day, which comes to a five-foot increase every five days. If the water continues to rise at this rate, there is no threat to the residents of Manchar Lake for the next 20 days, Meerani assured. “I hope till that time, water in the River Indus will start reducing, so that around 3,000 cusecs can then be discharged from the lake,” he added. The level of the River Indus is 118 RL and it is expected to decrease with each day. Once that happens, the additional water from Manchar Lake will be discharged into the Indus though three canals – Danister Wah, Aral Head and Aral Tail. REFERENCE: The one place in Pakistan where the water is welcome BY Hafeez Tunio Sunday, 29 Aug 2010 http://tribune.com.pk/story/43903/the-one-place-in-pakistan-where-the-water-is-welcome/Manchchar The Dying Lake part 01 By Aziz Sanghur.flv
BUBAK (Sehwan), Sept 15: Seventy-year-old Sanwal Mallah is busy in modifying his boat on the Manchhar Lake bund in Bubak outside his partially damaged house. His 35-foot boat was damaged a couple of days ago by unusually strong currents, which were also to blame for destruction of a major portion of his mud-thatched house. “We are repairing this boat and making it smaller,” replied Sanwal when this correspondent interrupted him in his work. Sanwal has moved his family to an adjacent kutcha house as strong currents continue to hit entire stretch of the bund. Many people whose houses were on the bund were seen working on the roofs of their kutcha houses. They were busy dismantling their houses to retrieve wood and iron tiers and girders, which could be used in rebuilding homes if their area is inundated by an overflow of the lake. Majority of fishermen who live in makeshift homes on boats have left the lake temporarily because no one dares navigate his boat deep inside the lake for fishing.
“When I built this house over a decade ago it cost me Rs80,000. But now the cost has increased manifold,” said Urs Sheikh as he retrieved tiers and girders from his shop-cum-house on the bund. He fears that the lake would overflow its banks as inflow of floodwater continued. “Rear portion of my house has already caved in due to erosion,” he said. Almost all residents have evacuated Bubak town for fear of inundation due to natural breaches in the lake’s bund or likely cut(s) in Manchhar Containing (MC) embankment. Authorities have planned to breach the bund at some places to save Bhan Saeedabad and Sehwan. Irrigation authorities have made a breach between RD-11 and RD-12 of MC bund to deflect water towards Indus through Aral head regulator. The Aral’s head and tail regulators are double-action waterworks for Manchhar which are used for feeding and emptying the lake whenever needed. Currently, both are being used to release lake’s water into the river. As a result of breach, the lake’s water will hit union councils of Bubak, Channa, Dal and some villages of UC Talti. Village of Sindh finance minister Murad Ali Shah in UC Dal, Wahur may also get inundated. But the overflowing of Manchhar has by far proved a blessing in disguise for the fishing community who believe fish catch will increase because huge fish seed is entering the lake through the river’s floodwater from Qambar-Shahdadkot district.
When the lake attains its normal level of 112RL (reduced level) fishermen will take their boats deep inside the lake to catch fish. Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum chief Mohammad Ali Shah said that floodwater from upper Sindh had diluted the lake’s water and it would have a direct bearing on fishing community’s business. “Fishermen at Manchhar told me that fish worth millions of rupees is available in the lake provided no breach occurred,” he said. “Lake is replete with fish but I can’t go deep inside as it is having abnormal flows at the moment,” said Abdul Hameed Sheikh, who has also lost his kutcha house. Large portions of countless houses on the lake’s bund have collapsed due to rise in lake level. “I shifted my family to a camp in Sehwan and I and my wife are staying here,” Sheikh said. Fishing community has greatly suffered over the years since the lake’s water started getting polluted by highly saline water of Main Nara Valley Drain, which seriously affected fish catch. Mustafa Mirani, vice-chairman of Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, said that for one and a half year quality of lake’s water would remain unaffected. “Enough of fish seed is entering the lake through Indus as it’s a natural phenomenon. When floodwater recedes we will be having enough fish in the lake. It will not get effluent from upper Sindh for the time being as entire area there is under floodwater,” he said. REFERENCE: Manchhar fishermen ready boats in hope of abundant catch By Mohammad Hussain Khan Thursday, 16 Sep, 2010
ISLAMABAD, Jul 23 (APP): Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Friday observed that polluting waters in Manchar Lake and depriving thousands of fishermen of their income were the worst precedents of human rights violations. Heading a three-member bench, he said the figures of affected people were higher than the estimated 50,000. He observed that pollution by the industrial units in Lake was also affecting the marine life and agricultural lands badly. “We have brought death ourselves. Why people responsible not being proceeded in accordance with law” he said while reprimanding officials of Sindh Irrigation department and WAPDA. He also warned that such pollution would not be allowed in sea waters. The bench also rejected a report of Irrigation Department and observed that treatment plants should be installed by concerned authorities. The bench did not agree with officials concerned that the funds allocated for the purpose had been spent. Both departments were directed to submit their reports till August. Justice Khalil ur Rehman Ramday and Justice Mohammad Sair Ali were the other members of the bench. According to environmentalists, the Manchar Lake in Dadu, the largest freshwater reserve in Asia, is heading towards a painful death. The dumping of effluent and pollution in its waters are a constant threat to the eco-system of the lake. The Mohanas, the fisherman caste of the Manchar area and one of the oldest inhabitants of Sindh, which had a unique lifestyle of residing in boats had abandoned their profession of netting fish due to pollution which added to poverty and unemployment in the area. These people who mainly rely on fishing, bird hunting, net making, fish marketing, boat making and farming, are the worst sufferers. The figures about the present level of toxic particles in Manchar Lake are also alarming, according to certain media reports. REFERENCE: Depriving fishermen worst example of human rights violations: CJ
http://www.app.com.pk/en_/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=110156&Itemid=2 [DATED 23 JULY 2010]Manchar Lake pollution SC directs WAPDA, Irrigation Deptt to halt toxin material Terence J Sigamony [Pakistan Observer] http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=43131 50, 000 residents of Manchar Lake are suffering from Fatal Hepatitis and lingering between Life and Death Friday, August 06, 2010, Shaban 24, 1431 A.H http://www.jang.com.pk/jang/aug2010-daily/06-08-2010/u41181.htm
Our largest lake - Manchar lake - is not even protected under the Ramisar Convention although many of us have been pushing for that for some years. Reference: "Water is everybody's business. We are almost at a point of no return, and something has to be done quickly to conserve and best use the resources we have" When Sindh gets its share of water, within that there is a certain amount which is to be released into the sea, but this is not happening. One viewpoint in Punjab is that every drop of water that goes to the sea is wasted. I ask them if they had any idea how much this will destroy the entire Indus system, affecting them as well. by Simi Kamal Monthly Newsline February 2006
Manchchar The Dying Lake part 02 By Aziz Sanghur.mov.flv
For instance, Manchar Lake in Dadu district has been devastated by an ill-conceived World-Bank-funded Right Bank Outfall Drain (RBOD) project. Haleji Lake in Thatta district is suffering from negligence and poor maintenance,” Naseer Memon remarked and added, “Brackish water lakes in Badin district in lower Sindh have also been ruined by the Left Bank Outfall Drain (LBOD) project and some other lakes are on the brink of falling prey to untreated sewerage water, industrial waste discharge, agriculture effluents and other kind of different pollutions.” What ails inland fisheries? By Saleem Shaikh Monday, 14 Dec, 2009 | 08:37 AM PST | http://dawnnews.tv/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/in-paper-magazine/economic-and-business/what-ails-inland-fisheries-429
Unfortunately increased human activities sans proper maintenance degraded the lake significantly. The proverbial role of ‘last nail in the coffin’ was played by construction of most criticized Right Bank Outfall Drainage-I (RBOD-I) that brought highly contaminated and saline water from Baluchistan in the main Lake. This mindless act of authorities not only destroyed the lake by toxic discharge but has become a perpetual source of poisoning even Indus when this contaminated overflowing water is released in the River during monsoon. - Besides concerned officials of ministry of environment, water experts, parliamentarians, donors and media persons representatives of affected communities of various projects including Mangla dam (Mirpur, Kashmir), Tarbella dam (Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa), Ghazi Barotha (Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa), Bhasha (Gilgit-Baltistan), Chotiari dam (Sanghar, Sindh), Indus Delta (Karachi, Sindh), Manchar Lack (Thatta, Sindh), Nelum Jehlum Hydro-Electric Project (Muzafrabad, Kashmir) and Right Bank Outfall Drainage (RBOD) and Left Bank Outfall Drainage (LBOD) Sindh participated. The consultation was mainly aimed to draw attention of policy makers and bring about the desired policy changes in the outdated draft of resettlement policy. REFERENCES: Manchar A fast dying Lake of Sindh 21 01 2010 by Shafqat Hussain Courtesy: Daily Dawn, 22.10.09 http://iaoj.wordpress.com/2010/01/21/manchar-a-fast-dying-lake-of-sindh/ Assessment of water quality of Manchar Lake in Sindh (Pakistan)Auteur(s) / Author(s) GHULAM MURTAZA MASTOI (1) ; SYED GHULAM SARWAR SHAH (2) ; MOHAMMAD YAR KHUHAWAR http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=20353738 Water sector projects sans resettlement policy By Zulfiqar Halepoto Monday, 14 Jun, 2010 | 01:13 AM PST | http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/in-paper-magazine/economic-and-business/water-sector-projects-sans-resettlement-policy-460
They also quote example of degradation of Manchar Lake, the country’s biggest fresh water natural lake. Previously, it provided a livelihood to a large number of fishermen and, irrigation water for various crops and aquatic plants. But after making it as final disposal point for effluent of RBOD-I, the Manchar Lake has become an environmental disaster. Continuous supply of poisonous and salty water to the lake for 20 years has reduced the fish production from 3,000 tons in 1950 to 100 tons in 2001 and consequently compelled nearly 40,000 fishermen to migrate from the area. So far Rs12.5 billion, 43 per cent of the total cost, have been spent on the project. It is said that the main reason for slow progress is difficulty in land acquisition and delay in release of approved funds. It is more likely that RBOD would not be completed on schedule. Apprehension prevails that if the RBOD-II project is not completed on time, the flora and fauna of Manchar Lake will completely be wiped out. REFERENCE: RBOD: fears and expectations By Dr Altaf Ali Siyal December 29, 2008 Monday Zilhaj 30, 1429 http://www.dawn.com/2008/12/29/ebr5.htm
He highlighted that cases of gastro were reported in 2003-04 in Hyderabad which were attributed to flow of Manchar Lake water into River Indus. He told the house that appropriate measures have been taken by the department and Sindh government in coordination with Hyderabad district administration, which includes regular checking of the lake water by experts and also the proportions of Manchar Lake water were fixed in accordance with the water quality in such a way so as to keep River Indus water safe for health. He said that rice canal passing through Larkana city remained closed for around six months and many sewerage disposal pipes outfall in the canal. However, he added, water keeps on flowing in the canal, even when it is closed at the head, which is regenerated water and generates considerable flow in the canal. SA told: 1991 Water Accord not being implemented Wednesday, 21 Oct, 2009 http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/provinces/13+sa+told+1991+water+accord+not+being+implemented-za-04
BACK IN 2006
Two years ago many people in Hyderabad lost their lives to contaminated water when toxic water from Manchar Lake was released into the Indus. This year, once again the authorities have sanctioned the release. Kolachi reports... Asia's biggest natural water lake, the famous Manchar Lake is making headlines once again, but for all the wrong reasons. This famed picnic spot is now the source of toxic water. If you remember, Manchar Lake supplied toxic water to Hyderabad that claimed more than 50 lives in 2004. The majority of those who died were children, women and old men. Hospitals received thousands of patients suffering from water borne diseases when water from the lake was released towards the Indus to save its embankments. Now, the contaminated water is again mixing with Indus River water for its onward supply to the citizens of Hyderabad.
Manchchar The Dying Lake part 03 By Aziz Sanghur.mov.flv
Situated in Sehwan, Manchar Lake provided the local fishermen with a decent livelihood until diminishing floods in the Indus and the storm run off from Kirthar Range resulted in drought conditions and cut off the fresh water supplies. Soon saline drainage water from the agricultural fields of Larkana, Shikarpur and other surrounding areas started flowing into the lake, making the water in the lake unfit for consumption. This not only deprived the locals of safe drinking water but also encouraged migration amongst local fishermen. Soon, the water supplied to other parts of the province including Hyderabad was not only unfit for consumption but toxic.
Last year, the episode was repeated but the situation was not as bad as it was in 2004. Official negligence and the slow process of law are mainly responsible for a recurrence of this contamination. Instead of taking strong action against those who are guilty of this mismanagement of drinking water, the authorities mostly remain passive. The officers who were charged with negligence remain unpunished - some of them continue to serve on the same posts. Instead of learning from past mistakes, authorities have once again decided to release Manchar Lake water into the Indus to save its embankments. Though they made tall claims that things will be more controlled and closely monitored this time, the important thing would have been to warn the citizens about the hazards of drinking this toxic water. On the contrary, citizens were kept in the dark for three days, after which they were told that a high level committee decision allowed the irrigation authorities to release the lethal water in the first week of August.
The meeting of the Manchar Lake Water Release Committee, formed by the provincial government in 2004 in the aftermath of the toxic water, was chaired by District Nazim Kanwar Naveed Jameel. Heavy rains and inflow of water from mountain areas were creating pressure in the lake, which made it necessary to release water from the contaminated Manchar Lake into the River Indus, was their justification.
The committee also decided that in order to ensure that safe water was being provided to people after being released from Manchar Lake, there will be quality checks after four hour intervals at several places. The high level meeting also resolved that if the quality of water was found substandard, the quantity of water released from Manchar Lake will either be reduced or stopped totally. District Hyderabad Nazim claimed that the situation is not as grave as it was in 2004, when the water released from the Manchar Lake had proved extremely detrimental and added that prevention was better than cure. He said that this decision has been taken in view of the reports submitted by a team of experts, dispatched by the Hyderabad district government to Manchar Lake. According to Chief Engineer Sukkur Barrage, right bank, Atta Mohammad Soomro, the Nai Gaj water level was increasing by three feet daily as a result of which the water level at Manchar had increased to 110 feet. This is only two feet less than the dangerous point of 112 feet. "Under the circumstances, it had become inevitable to release water from Manchar Lake into the River Indus to protect the lake," he explained. According to him, the water level on the right bank of Manchar Lake is increasing due to continuous rains and the discharge was essential to avoid breaches in embankments. While briefing newsmen at Kotri Barrage the Chief Engineer assured them that the irrigation department would release water from Manchar Lake only after the high committee gives its approval. He claimed that 300 cusecs water was released in Indus River on the directives of the committee but was later stopped. However, a water technologist appointed by the district government Hyderabad, Dr Ahsan Siddiqui said that according to the analysis, the quality of Manchar Lake water today is far more inferior that it was in 2004. Therefore, he said, the discharge of only 1.5 per cent was considered safe. However, irrigation authorities have begun releasing the toxic Manchar lake water into the River Indus and water varying from 1500 to 2000 cusecs is being released regularly in the Indus.
As the discharge of Manchar Lake's toxic water into the Indus continues, a spokesman for District Government Hyderabad has been declaring on a regular basis that the water being supplied to citizens is fit for human consumption as per World Health Organization (WHO) standards. According to citizens, the district government is now more cautious to avoid the 2004 incident but at the same time they feel that the provincial government should make a permanent arrangement to avoid the release of toxic water into the Indus River as it is always harmful to use the water even after filtration. They fear that any negligence from the official side would be disastrous and also question why those officials responsible for the 2004 disaster still remain unpunished. Is the government really sincere in resolving the problems of citizens this time around or do we need another suo moto notice from the chief justice of the apex court? It is indeed pitiful how often the courts have to intervene to ensure that those on the official payroll actually do their jobs. REFERENCE: hyderabad blues How the Indus turned toxic http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/sep2006-weekly/nos-24-09-2006/kol.htm#2
However, noted environmentalist and former director-general of the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) Iqbal Saeed Khan says the Manchar lake could be cleared of much of its toxicity by diverting floodwater into the lake. “This flood has created an opportunity of cleansing the Manchar Lake of its contamination. The ball is now in the court of Irrigation Department officials as only they can use the floodwater to flush out toxicity from Asia’s biggest lake,” he observed. According to him, dumping of fertilizers and agricultural waste along with all kinds of chemicals had created a thick layer of green algae on the Manchar Lake that had destroyed its aquatic life. “This thick layer of algae became dead over the time and now it is preventing sunlight and oxygen from penetrating into the water. Both these elements — sunlight and oxygen — are immensely important for aquatic life as well as killing harmful bacteria in the water,” he maintained. REFERENCE: Floods, rains might have positive Sunday, August 08, 2010 By By M. Waqar Bhatti Karachi http://www.thenews.com.pk/print1.asp?id=255398
We arrived as the sun was setting and Manchar Lake certainly looked picturesque, shimmering in the fading light. A few Mohannas (local fishermen) were straining at the bamboo poles on their wooden boats, pushing them soundlessly in the water as they made their way home. The lake stretches for miles in every direction and one can barely see the opposite shoreline. It is more like a mini-sea than a lake.
Manchar Lake is Pakistan’s biggest shallow water natural lake. Located at a distance of about 18 kilometres from Sehwan Sharif, district Dadu in Sindh, it is a vast natural depression surrounded by the Kirthar hills in the west, the Laki hills in the south and the River Indus in the east. Only around 10 feet deep, it is hard to believe that beneath its smooth, silvery surface, the lake water is full of toxins which have chased away migratory birds, destroyed the local agriculture, devastated the Mohanna community and killed people living in nearby cities. The very mention of Manchar Lake still brings up memories of the summer of 2004, when hundreds of people in Hyderabad and further down the River Indus, fell ill after drinking poisonous water from Manchar Lake that had been allowed to enter the city’s water supply.
Around 40 people, mostly children, died from severe diarrhoea caused by gastroenteritis in Hyderabad alone. The lake’s waters reached the city via the River Indus, due to the heavy rains that had broken a long period of drought in Sindh. A fact-finding report conducted by Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission squarely blamed the lake’s toxic water for the disaster.
This year, Manchar Lake was again full of water –– it had rained heavily in 2006 and the lake is fed mostly by hill torrents. According to a report on the lake conducted by Naseer Memon, an environmentalist, “Inflow to the lake is very erratic and unreliable since it depends on flood flows. Annual rainfall in this area is only 4.43 inches (112.5mm) against evaporation of about 80 inches (2000mm). Therefore, very little runoff is generated within catchments of hill torrents during dry or average years. Hence the lake is recharged by this source only during wet years, which normally occur once in three years.” The other main source of freshwater for the lake is River Indus, but the river itself is facing water shortages.
There was even a sizeable amount of fish for sale in the small marketplace located in the settlement on the banks of the lake, as we got off the main road from Sehwan Sharif. This settlement consists mostly of mud houses and a bazaar which reeked of rotting fish and open sewers. We were more interested in meeting the Mohannas or traditional fisher folk, who still live in their wooden houseboats, as they have for centuries, in harmony with their natural environment. Only now, has environment turned against them. “We used to be more than 60,000 in number, living here on the lake. Now there are only 10,000 of us left. Most families moved because they were starving here. The water is spoilt –– the natural vegetation in the lake has gone, the fish have died mostly –– there is nothing here for us now. We would leave tomorrow if we could, but we have no money at all,” explained Nazeer, a Mohanna who lives with his close relatives. All of them make up a cluster of eight boats.
These large houseboats are mobile homes for the community and a peak inside one revealed bedding, a makeshift kitchen, shelf space for storing food, household items and a cradle.
Manchar Lake is Pakistan’s biggest shallow water natural lake. Only around 10 feet deep, it is hard to believe that beneath its smooth, silvery surface, the lake water is full of toxins which have chased away migratory birds, destroyed the local agriculture, devastated the Mohanna community and killed people living in nearby cities
According to Nazeer, the water in the lake started turning bad around eight years ago, probably when the six-year drought hit Sindh. Manchar Lake was once a tourist destination, a wetland that was a haven for migratory waterfowl and home to a thriving community of Mohannas and agriculturalists who raised crops around the lake’s shallow bed. Over the years, shortage of good rains and the influx of chemical effluents have started playing havoc with the lake.
“Manchar is badly hit by the construction and enlargement of the artificial channels linking the Indus with the lake and the construction of flood embankments to the north. The Main Nara Valley Drain (constructed during the building of Sukkur Barrage) brings a considerable supply of saline water into the lake,” points out Memon. To make matters worse, the controversial and badly designed Right Bank Outfall Drain (as the remodelling of the Main Nara Valley Drain is now called) began dumping industrial effluents (from factories up north) and agricultural runoff into the lake. The authorities assumed freshwater from the Indus and from the hill torrents during the rainy season would dilute the effluents.
That was a miscalculation, for Manchar’s two sources don’t provide it with enough water to clean the effluents. Flows from the Indus are drying up because of barrages and dams located upstream, while rainfall in Sindh is becoming extremely erratic in recent years due to climatic changes. According to water experts, Manchar Lake now has a 4000-ppm salt concentration and people who drink its waters can get water-borne diseases and develop serious illnesses in the long run. Environmentalists want the present drainage from the Right Bank Outfall Drain into Manchar Lake to be stopped immediately.
Almost 100,000 acres of land in Sindh is irrigated by waters from Manchar Lake. Imagine all the crops and vegetables absorbing the toxic chemicals in the water from effluents discharged from factories and agricultural runoff. Those crops and vegetables are probably harvested and sold in towns and cities all over the province. Hard chemicals get into the food chain and cause cancer in human beings. The Mohannas themselves are not taking any chances with the polluted lake water. They buy their drinking water from the bazaar and store it in large plastic containers on their houseboats. The livestock in the area, however, which drinks from the lake, is infected with all sorts of diseases. Although the plight of the Mohannas has been highlighted in the media in recent years, they complain that they still don’t get any help.
“Trucks come with relief goods and food items, but we don’t get anything. The people living on the shore take it all –– especially all those so-called NGOs. No one helps us,” complains a Mohanna. We visited the houseboats, many of which were inhabited by women and noticed that there were hardly any men around. “Most of the young men have gone to the coast to find work. Mostly, women, children and old people are left here now. It is the same situation all over the lake. Those who can, migrate to greener pastures,” says an old woman as her daughter lights up a fire on their houseboat to cook the evening meal. “We have lived on this lake for almost seven generations –– but now I don’t see much of a future here for us.”
By now it was getting dark, so we made our way to the shore –– a man was getting ready to butcher a duck he had caught on the lake that day. In the past, the lake was the winter home to numerous migratory bird species. Since it was the first wetland on their route, Manchar Lake was a safe wintering home for thousands of migratory waterfowl. Wildlife experts say that the pollution in the lake has caused a drastic fall in their numbers. Migratory birds still visit the lake, but fly off after an overnight stay. On our way back to the main road where our car was parked, we noticed a number of small children carrying wood. The Mohannas told us that selling fuel wood in the bazaar is now one of their main sources of income. One little girl was bent over, carrying a large bundle of wood on her head, her clothes no more than rags. There are no schools in the area. Amongst the fisher folk communities, 90 per cent of boys and 95 per cent of girls have never been to school.
Nevertheless the local communities have other, more immediate problems to deal with –– the prevalence of TB, anaemia, malnutrition, skin diseases, gastroenteritis and waterborne diseases is widely reported. Many deaths are reported in the lake villages, but the health authorities are not doing anything about it. These people are amongst the poorest of the poor in this country and have no voice. The toxic waters of Manchar Lake are slowly killing them off.
How to save Manchar Lake
Manchar Lake is nature’s gift to Pakistan and the world, therefore it needs to be preserved and protected. Here are some recommendations for what can be done:
• A comprehensive revised plan for rehabilitation and conservation of the lake should be prepared, with the active participation of the local communities and experts.
• Inflow of saline effluent from MNV drain should be delinked from Manchar.
• Fresh water flow from Indus should be enhanced and regularised.
• Health facilities should be provided on war footing to save precious human lives.
• Fisher folk community, particularly fisherwomen should be trained to improve their fishing practices to ensure sustainable livelihood for them.
• Diesel engine boats should not be permitted for boating and fishing purposes. Their oil spillage also causes degradation of the lake. People should be facilitated to get these boats replaced.
• The lake bed should be de-silted and de-weeded. Villagers should be provided with alternate arrangements, particularly for solid waste disposal outside the lake body. Fisherwomen should be provided training for maintaining a better in-house environment.
• Structures should be constructed to channelise flash floods in Kaacho plain. Presently the lake receives only 25 per cent of the flow, the rest is lost to evaporation and percolation. These channels would also be helpful in containing gushing floods in Kaacho.
• All institutions working in the area for rural development, agriculture, irrigation, women development, drainage, forestry and fisheries should be reorganised, considering the new realities of Manchar Lake.
• Water quality monitoring should be carried with more frequency and results should be made public.
• Fishermen should be provided interest-free easy credit to get rid of the debt trap so that they can boost their business. REFERENCE: Asia’s largest toxic lake By Rina Saeed Khan Courtesy: Degradation of Manchar Lake –– a report by Naseer Memon & Zubeda Birwani February 15, 2007 http://www.dawn.com/weekly/review/archive/070215/review1.htm