Home Opinion Op-Ed Will “Lahore Voters” vote to get rid of “shit” in their water?...

Will “Lahore Voters” vote to get rid of “shit” in their water? – Farid Malik

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Farid A Malik |

After every heavy down pour, as teenagers we went looking for rainwater. It was a ritual to bike through the ponds. In the entire city of Lahore, there were only two places where this sport could be practiced. The low-lying Shad Bagh area near the railway station was one, while the other was Sanda behind the Civil Secretariat close to the Commissioner’s office.

The city had a functional storm drain system through which rainwater was drained out. In the 1970 elections, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) promised the people of Shad Bagh to fix their rainwater outflow problem.

The Lahore Improvement Trust (LIT) was upgraded into Lahore Development Authority (LDA) under which a separate department was created for water management called Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA). High-powered pumps were installed in Shad Bagh to pump out the accumulated rainwater thereby overcoming the menace.

Hopes are being pinned on the coming elections. Voters are questioning the failed political leadership. Let us show maturity and vote them out. All those who had repeatedly tried but failed to deliver should be made to bite the dust at the ballot box.

Recently, after the rain, I tried to drive out of my home to go to the bank in DHA area. Every road was a pond, with great difficulty I was able to withdraw in safety to reach back from where I had started. My immediate reaction was:“What a mess we have created!” As a child I could cycle my way through my place of birth but now I could not even come out of my house.

In the last forty years, Pakistan and its institutions have been surgically destroyed by corruption, incompetence or a combination of both. A major portion of this period has been dominated by GHQ created PML-N. In Punjab, Khadim-e-Aala has completed two continuous terms in office, before that he was a proxy chief minister (CM) operating through an ordinary party worker Ghulam Haider Wyne.

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Every year, before the rainy season starts, a standard statement is issued that WASA has made all the arrangements to deal with the downpour. Details of preparedness are never revealed despite several personal requests, it is a big hoax. The fact of the matter is that the entire sewerage system of the city is non-functional. Gutters regularly overflow with multiple blockages as the network is neither maintained nor cleaned.

Most drainage pipes have sludge deposits which has reduced their effective diameter resulting in obstructed flow. Lakshmi Chowk was a major challenge. A water-drain pipeline was installed to pump out rainwater costing billions of rupees. The network was designed to pass through Hall Road to reach the storm drain across the Mall. On the protest of the traders the design was changed. Instead, Mayo Hospital Road was used to lay the drainage system. For months the work continued with great inconvenience to the public. Finally, the network was put to test and it failed badly.

The city had a functional storm drain system through which rainwater was drained out. In the 1970 elections, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) promised the people of Shad Bagh to fix their rainwater outflow problem.

 

The beautiful Lakshmi was soaked as usual, the only difference being that Khadim-e-Aala was not standing his with his waterproof boots. Even posh colonies like Gulberg, DHA, Johar Town, and Township do not have storm water drains, as a result, when it pours the rainwater stays there for days freely mixing with the non-performing sewerage system. It is a total mess like loading the system much beyond its capacity to carry.

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First of all, the entire sewerage network has to be revamped and cleaned with zero overflows. With boiling gutters WASA cannot deliver the normal flows how can it cater for the heavy downpour? All nullahs of Lahore have to be dredged, cleaned and cleared. The anti-encroachment staff should be sent there at least three months before the monsoons start. These colonial-era open drains have either been encroached or soiled with reduced flows.

The clean and dirty water should never be mixed as it spreads dirt and disease converting the city into swamps.

Mayo Hospital Road was used to lay the drainage system. For months the work continued with great inconvenience to the public. Finally, the network was put to test and it failed badly.

Rainwater harvesting is being done in several countries to raise the water table which, is dropping at an alarming rate. Ravi was once the lifeline of the metropolis now it has been turned into a sewage dump where the untreated greywater of Lahore is pumped, which then combines with the river network causing water-related diseases and deaths in lower riparian communities.

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Rains will not stop, as a nation we must learn to harness this gift of nature. Manipulated ballots and third-rate leadership, both Khaki and civilian, have badly failed. A fresh start has to be made as was tried in the free and fair elections in 1946 and 1970. Only credible leadership can pull us out of this mess, showmanship and drama must be replaced with professionalism.

Hopes are being pinned on the coming elections. Voters are questioning the failed political leadership. Let us show maturity and vote them out. All those who had repeatedly tried but failed to deliver should be made to bite the dust at the ballot box. Let’s vote for new faces across the party lines to clear this political dirt before they smudge us all.

Dr. Farid A. Malik is Ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation. The article was first published in Daily Times and has been republished here with author’s permission. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.


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