Fazilka drain block causing severe pollution, talk to Pak: NGT to Punjab

Updated on Mar 18, 2021 01:17 AM IST

Pakistan has blocked the drain from entering its territory and this has led to large-scale accumulation of untreated water. The Sutlej flows down from the Himalayas through Punjab and into neighbouring Pakistan, before turning back into India again

Untreated sewage water being released into the drain at Fazilka. (HT file)
Untreated sewage water being released into the drain at Fazilka. (HT file)
ByHarmandeep Singh

Moga The state’s monitoring committee of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed chief secretary Vini Mahajan to communicate with Pakistan, through the ministry of external affairs, and convince it to open its blockade of Fazilka drain into its territory, allowing free flow of water into Sutlej river.

Pakistan has blocked the drain from entering its territory and this has led to large-scale accumulation of untreated water. The Sutlej flows down from the Himalayas through Punjab and into neighbouring Pakistan, before turning back into India again. Under the Indus Water Treaty of 1960, Pakistan is supposed to desilt and maintain drains such as the one at Fazilka.

Fazilka drain is one of 22 drains and water bodies, where untreated water of Malwa district is discharged. The monitoring committee has said that the drain is closed at the borderline of countries, leading to stagnation in the shape of ponds and deterioration of quality of groundwater in the border area. The contamination of groundwater has been detected at more than 100ft in the border area.

The direction is based on a review of remedial measures in Moga, Fazilka, Ferozepur, Faridkot and Muktsar districts. Justice Jasbir Singh (retd), chairman of committee, had chaired the review meeting on March 4.

“Punjab chief secretary shall again take up matter with the ministry of water resources, to further take up the matter with the ministry concerned of government of Pakistan through the ministry of external affairs to open the Fazilka drain,” the committee recommended.

On November 11, 2020, the chief secretary had written to the department of water resources, ministry of jal shakti, to look into the matter. There was, however, no positive result.

Justice Jasbir added, “The halt in the flow of Fazilka drain at the borderline has created around a 2.5-km pound, where water is being stagnated. The stagnated water is seeping into the lands and contaminating groundwater. We have closed several hand pumps in the area, after harmful bacteria were found up to 150 feet deep in ground water.”

“The removal of the blockade of the Fazilka drain will avoid stagnation of water and seepage. However, the solution is that the untreated sewage water which falls in the drain should be cured. Number of efforts have been made in this direction and improvement has resulted,” he added.

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