For the first time, India will be monitoring water pollutants coming from Pakistan to end diplomatic row over highly polluted drains that flow between the two countries.
The bone of contention is transboundary Hudiara canal, which zig-zags between India and Pakistan. It originates from Batala in Gurdaspur district of Punjab and enters Pakistan at Ladoo, before re-entering India and finally submerging into river Ravi after traveling for 63 kms in Pakistan.
Pakistan has been repeatedly accused over 100 industries on the banks of the canal in India for polluting the water used there for irrigation and thereby, causing human health problems. India on its part has been blaming industries in Pakistan for polluting it.
The water in Hudiara canal in Pakistan was labeled as unfit for human consumption in late 2000 whereas in India, its monitoring has been very poor. Industrial pollutants such as cadmium, chromium and copper had been found in the canal water and have lead to production of over vegetables.
“We will be setting up 139 hydrological stations on the drain to monitor its water quality on regular basis,” said chairman of the Central Pollution Control Board S P Gautam. The stations will be set up at short intervals to study deterioration of water quality as it flows in India.
“The stations will also be set up at the point the drain enters India and its exit,” he said.The monitoring for the first time will provide conclusive evidence to the government on the culprit behind high pollution of the drain. The World Wide Fund for Nature in Pakistan has put up some monitoring stations on the drain in Pakistan under the United Nations projects. The Indian initiative being funded by World Bank is part of diplomatic confidence building mechanism between Indo-Pak. While the first step is monitoring, environment ministry officials are confidence that the second step would be efforts to clean up the drain in a joint effort with Pakistan government.
Ministry officials said the World Bank had approved the project in principle and was in process of finalizing the model of hydrological stations to be set up.
“The cost of setting up the stations will be worked out once the World Bank decides what type of stations they want,”a ministry official said.
Apart from Hudiara, the government is also looking at brining other transboundary drains under the progamme.