Farming with toxic water
Ahmad Fraz Khan
A recent survey conducted by the Punjab government on the contamination of vegetables reveals a threatening picture of what we, as a nation, consume, and the urgency required to resolve the issues.
According to the survey, 51 samples of 16 vegetables were collected from nine divisional headquarters and tested for 22 metals. They were found to have been contaminated with toxic metals like cadmium, chromium, lead, nickel etc.
In Punjab, 98 tehsil municipal areas produce 504m gallons of wastewater daily, and out of them 66 use the same water for agriculture purposes, and 28 dispose their wastewater into canals, rivers and their tributaries; only four have some kind of wastewater disposal system.
Thus, an overwhelming amount of the wastewater finds its way into agriculture. The provincial water treatment capacity is woefully inadequate. Punjab has only oxidation ponds in the southern part of the province. Thus, its most populated areas (major cities) like Lahore, Faisalabad and Gujranwala don’t have any treatment plants. If the situation remains unchecked, the slow poisoning would only help create a generation of physically and mentally handicapped citizens.