Violation of ban: Motor boating continues to pollute Rawal Lake
ISLAMABAD: Despite a ban, unabated motor boating in Rawal Lake continues to put health of Rawalpindi residents at risk. In an act of sheer neglect and lack of concern, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Administration have apparently turned a blind eye to the illegal activity.
Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) has expressed concern over the pollution caused by motorised boats operating in the reservoir, which supplies drinking water to over 3.5 million residents of Rawalpindi.
Islamabad High Court (IHC) had ordered a complete ban on all types of boat activity in the lake in 2006.
“Later, the ban was relaxed in 2009 and permission was given for paddle and rowboats to continue limited operation. The ban on mechanised boats, however, stayed,” an official at the agency told The Express Tribune on Sunday, requesting not to be named.
On November 21 last year, an assistant commissioner imposed a ban on motor boating in the lake for two months to control water pollution.
The EPA official said that the boats were a major source of pollution in the lake and criticised the capital administration and civic agency officials for not enforcing the ban in letter and spirit.
“It’s not just oil residues released from the engines of the motorboats; they [boats] shake up the sediments at the bottom of the lake in shallow areas. Stirring up sediments decreases water quality by adding more particles,” he said.
The environmental agency official said that motorboats added metals, chemicals and hydrocarbons to freshwater.
“A certain amount of unburned fuel from the motor gets discharged into the lake too,” the official said.
“Currently, almost 100 boats including paddle, row and mechanical boats are operating in Rawal Lake. Around 40 per cent of all the boats are mechanised,” Amjad Hussain a boat owner told this correspondent.
He said that they usually charged Rs300 for rowboats, Rs500 for motorboats for a short trip and Rs1,000 for a longer trip.
“Around 30 to 50 motorboats can be seen operating in the lake particularly on Saturdays and Sundays,” Siddiqa Malik, a social activist residing on the bank of Rawal Lake in Banni Gala area, said.
Sohail Khan, a resident of Bani Gala said that some of the CDA officials and personnel from the Secretariat Police Station were allegedly involved in the illegal operation of motorboats in the lake.
A boat owner, Wazir Khan, when asked said that he had CDA’s permission to operate his motorboat.
“We pay Rs50 for every boat trip to the contractor working for the CDA,” he said.
Another boat owner, however said that they were not paying any contractor any amount and they were operating their motorboats in the lake, despite the ban to earn a living for their families.