Environmental Problems In Rawalpindi And Islamabad

Islamabad
the Capital of Pakistan, is the land of green lush grass covered grounds and
sky kissing high mountains of Margalla, Wide tree-lined streets, large houses,
elegant public buildings and well organized bazaars, Rawalpindi the joined twin
city of Islamabad is showing the face of old traditions, narrow streets, old
architectural buildings. The two cities though very close but still have many
features in different, like landscaping, local transport, quality of town
planning, etc.
Environmental Problems In Rawalpindi And Islamabad
Environmental Problems
Like
all other big cities these two cities house a huge population, beside many
other reasons one reason being the community of small cities shifting there to
get settle and earn a handsome income because of comparatively nice amount of
employment opportunities. This increment of population by no means has an end,
and not only is growing in number but speed also. This is how the main cause of
“Environmental problems” in these cities is cited i.e. increment in population
meaning increment in solid waste, increment in waste water, increment in noise
pollution etc.
The
time you left your house you find yourself in a dustbin, with number of
shopping bags floating and flying in air, flies and mosquitoes disturbing you,
waste water percolating the natural ground water polluting it and increasing
the number of water born diseases in the inhabitants.
Like
all other developing cities, these twin cities find difficulty in balancing
between economic development and environmental protection. In fighting with the
neighboring growing cities of the country these cities house no. of small and
large scale factories, production houses, raw material sources and much more.
With the increase in population the damage and severity of environmental issues
increases.
Cutting of Forests
Reason
for cutting of forest is many in number, like need of a place to construct
building or construction of a pavement or highway like motorways, usage of wood
as fuel, usage of wood as a construction material in mountainous areas etc.
these all reasons have its validity in the locality of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
The importance of trees have no second opinion, we know their importance as far
as the air quality and oxygen quantity is concerned besides other utilization
like as a food source etc. In the twin cities, this problem though very similar
but has a different to some extent, like Islamabad is a much green land then
Rawalpindi where our eyes find greenery on few occasions distant a part. The
main reason being the cutting of forest on the Hills of Margala. Increase of
population means increase of construction which in turn means increase in
cutting of trees. But Government has jumped in this situation to rescue the
environmental quality of the region and has thus made a policy in 1992, in
which the cutting of trees and forest was made illegal and was banned. But that
policy doesn’t seem to have a success.
The
local community because is more educated comparative to other cities of
Pakistan, knows the importance of trees and occasionally we see seminars and
plantation schemes motivating the inhabitants and let them know the importance
of trees.
Thus
in this regard the government must develop a significant policy in this regard,
a strict legislation is required which will ensure how the community finds its
responsibility in saving their environment by growing trees or cutting less
trees. The balance must not get disturbed which means if for an unavoidable
reason one has to cut a tree then one must find oneself responsible for growing
two trees at least in return.     
Balance
is very important as far as the environmental quality is concerned, as it is
rightly said that excess of everything is bad, this statement also stands true
in the growth of trees, as has experienced by the community of Rawalpindi and
Islamabad. Some of the problems they face is a pollen allergy that is caused
because of a paper mulberry, this plant is not native to Pakistan and is being
imported, the Pollen of this plant causes problems for the local people and
they have to leave the city in April and May, 
beside this problem it also has one major drawback as well which is the usage
of abundant water due to which the groundwater of the twin cities trickle down
by 1 feet every year which is a very dangerous threat to the local government.
But by increase of awareness about this plant the local government decided to
cut down these plants and find out replacement.
Pollution from Factories
With
the development and increment in the requirement of products for the community,
the pollution is next problem being faced by twin cities. The factories
severely damage the environment as well as the living standard of the community
near that region but also have an impact on the far off regions in the long
run. Factories creates noise pollution, the heavy duty vibrating machines not
only makes it difficult for people to live near them, but also brings
behavioral changes and brings psychological disturbance in them. Similarly
these factories produce bundles of solid waste which is toxic as well and
damages not only the land but also due to non-systematic dumping of the solid
waste and liquid waste in the region; the underground water quality is also
questionable.
Factories
in the nearby industrial zones of the twin cities like Rawat Industrial Area
houses numbers of factories producing steel, marble, leather products, some
food items like banaspati ghee, oil and much more. Factories causing problems
are oil refineries, textile mills, marble crushing unites, flour mills, soap
and detergent, hydrogenated oils, automobiles, steel and electroplating and
rubber industries. These all factories have a solid impact on the environment
causing air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution etc. As far as the Air
pollution is concerned; CDA (Capital Development Authority) has failed to check
the increment in Air pollution. Marble and steel industries are the major cause
of air pollution, residents are complaining frequently about diseases like
chest congestion and asthma. These factories also causes noise pollution as
well as they throw their waste in to the natural streams which irrigate the
nearby agricultural lands and thus the food items that grow on such a land
causes deaths and a lot of diseases as well. According to Pakistan
Environmental Protection Agency (PEPA), steel industries are a big source of
pollution because it uses low-quality scrap as a raw material and releases huge
number of harmful particles in air.
The
cause of the problems due to factories is multi-dimensional, but from very
basic the reason is these industrial units are established without
environmental impact assessment (EIA) and environmental management and planning
(EMD).  The effluents discharge by these
industries consists of organic and inorganic chemicals and toxic metals. These
effluents are discharged untreated, even though the PH of various effluents
varied from very acidic to alkaline within the range 8.5 – 9.7, hardness is
very high as far as the effluents from textile mills are concerned, Total
Dissolved Solids (TDS) was very high, excess of CO3 and HCO3,
these few parameters are enough for any ordinary person to understand how
damaging these effluents can be to our human friendly environment.
Although
CDA has a complete environmental division ad EPA is also there to check in the
various problems, but the problem is same, policy and law is there but
implementation is nowhere, law enforcement seems very weak due to corruption
and lack of interest of the authorities and authenticities.
Lowering of Ground Water
Table
In
the twin cities, the main source of drinking water is Rawal Dam, but only
limited areas have access to this water supply scheme. Most of the regions have
been using the percussion boring to obtain the underground water individually
or there is some sort of tubewell installed which supplies water to the main
overhead tank from where the water is introduced to the water supply scheme of
the town.
But
due to increase of population there is an increase in the amount of water
required per capita per day and also this increase of population brings
urbanization in twin cities, due to this urbanization the most of the land is
now carpeted or cemented, due to which percolation and seepage of rain water
has decreased drastically, and thus this causes increase in the amount of water
evaporated and much increase in flooding is there. More over the global warming
plays its role in causing problems for the inhabitants.
Due
to all these processes the natural water cycle gets disturbed, the natural
recharge of ground water is affected and thus ultimately the underground water
table is now going to get lowered by a rate of 1 to 2 feet per year.
CDA
has taken the notice of this problem and has tried to help the nature, by
introducing the artificial recharge wells, which they have installed near
Faisal Mosque near Islamabad. There is a concept of inverted Recharge Well
(IRW) there.  The surface runoff of the
Faisal Mosque gets to these wells where it is then showed its path to the
underground soil artificially.
Pollution due to Increase in
the Public and Private Transport
     
In
the recent past there is a noticeable rise in the usage of vehicles for mass
transport and for luggage transport. This rise in the usage is mainly due to
two factors,
(i)           
Increase in the standard of living
(ii)         
Increase in population
Due
to the leasing schemes that have been launched by the different public and
private sector Banks, the inhabitants are encouraged to buy their own private
vehicles and cars this increase is combined with the industrial revolution in
the area showed us by the increase in the trucks and heavy loaded vehicles on
the highways.
The
results can be seen easily by the traffic congestion, producing horns of the
vehicles, producing noise pollution there especially near the congested areas
like bazaars and markets; most common areas that can be observed in this regard
is Murree Road areas like Shamsabad, Committee Chowk, Commercial Market, Waris
Khan stop etc. In Islamabad this problem although is diluted because of the
much wider traffic lanes and highways as compared with that of Rawalpindi, but
even then the problem is not eliminated, we can see hundreds of vehicles
waiting on the traffic lights. The problem of noise pollution in the twin cities of Rawalpindi
and Islamabad is aggravating day by day because of high traffic density and
lack of traffic management,
With
Noise pollution the air pollution is also causing problems for the inhabitants,
the burning of fuels producing gases which are very hazardous for the
environment. Gases like Lead Oxide and Sulfur-dioxide have accumulated in large
magnitude and are still increasing.
Increase of Solid Waste
Solid
Waste which not only includes domestic waste but also the sewerage waste as
well. The reason for the rise of amount of solid waste is same i.e. increase of
population. Although Rawalpindi and Islamabad are comparatively more organized
cities of Pakistan, but still there is no systematic means of dumping the solid
waste. We see bundles and heaps of solid waste being present within the centers
of the towns and bazaars.
CDA
and RDA seems helpless in this regard, there are containers and waste dumpers
in the cities provided so that all the solid waste must be dumped in those
containers which will then be taken to the dumping sites by the dumpers etc.
But firstly those containers are left empty and all the solid waste is seen
near these containers in the form of heaps, secondly even if the community
dumps their solid waste to these containers, the responsible trucks and wagons
doesn’t full fill their responsibility.
More
over in Rawalpindi/Islamabad the dumping site is not build as per required by
the global environmental laws, what they do is just dig a huge sort of hole in
the ground and dump the waste in it without providing the lining on the walls
for the leachate etc.
This
solid waste is dumped there without separating the recyclable material from it,
and thus that solid waste not only waste that land but also causes foul smell
in that region, causing problems for the inhabitants.
As
far as the solution of this problem is concerned, firstly there is lack of
interest and lack of awareness in the community, this brings the challenges for
the NGOs and other organizations fighting for the environment to step ahead and
tackle this problem. There must be a systematic way to let the inhabitants dump
their domestic home waste to a small dumping drum etc, and for each street
there must be a dumping container to take care of the waste of street.
CDA,
RDA and EPA must collaborate to construct a dumping site of global
environmental standards, in the far off region and must encourage the
participation of the local community in this regard.
If
this problem is not considered for few other foregoing years there will be a
drastic increase in the severity of the problem.
Pollution from Hospital
Waste
Hospital
Waste is considered the most toxic solid waste, and for Rawalpindi/Islamabad
this most toxic solid waste is always ignored. This solid waste must not get
disposed untreated, but then again there is a continuous violation of this law
as well.
Rawalpindi/Islamabad
can be considered as the hub of hospitals and Medical Facilities, thus various
patients from far off cities come here to get treated. This increase of demand
always met with the increase in medical facilities. Very famous Hospitals in Rawalpindi
/ Islamabad include, PIMS Islamabad, Shifa International Hospital, Maroof
International Hospital, Quaid-e-Azam International Hospital, Armed Force
Institute of Cardiology, Combined Military Hospital, Center Hospital Islamabad,
These are few in number but are many more as well. Recently Punjab Government
has constructed state of the art Cardiology Institute in Rawalpindi to meet the
growing needs of the medical field in Rawalpindi on Rawal Road near Rescue 1122
office.
Reports
are there that private health care practitioners, especially in Rawalpindi’s
Saidpur area, dispose of their syringes, disposable scalpels and blades like
normal municipal waste. Cases have been observed where chemicals, for example
solvents and disinfectants, expired, unused, and contaminated pharmaceutical
are just thrown away to be picked up by the municipal workers.
Moreover,
radioactive matter, such as glassware contaminated with radioactive diagnostic
material or radio-therapeutic materials and wastes with high heavy metal contents,
such as broken mercury thermometers, are put on the garbage heaps.
There
must be disinfectants and solid waste treatment plants within each hospital and
pharmaceutical facility. The law must bound all the hospitals to keep in check
their disposal system, auditing must be done by the external auditors to check
for any poor management and any sort of environmental hazardous material being
dispose of as a municipal waste.
Behavioral Change Due to
Environment
We
all know the importance of environment on the behavior of human beings. To
judge a human his/her environment is always judged. As also said by our
Religion that “Cleanliness is half faith”, this tells us how important our
clean environment is for us. The noise pollution caused by traffic, congestion,
increase of mobile phones, and increase of use of televisions has made us prone
to behavioral change attacks.
We
easily loose our temper and this brings a lot of other troubles in our lives as
well. The poor quality of drinking water brings a lot of health problems for
us, we need to boil water before drinking. Poor quality of food items and poor
cleanliness in our surroundings has changed us as a human. Our thinking and
analytical capabilities have changed, we are much effected by the others now a
days. The change of weather of Rawalpindi / Islamabad due to climate change and
global warming always has an impact on our lives, we are now facing with more
severity of the climate like more cold in winter and more hot in summer, the
pollen allergy problem in winter has also made us to think about leaving this
city in the future.
Conclusion
These
all environmental problems though harsh, but has a solution. By just changing
our mind about the environment having awareness of how to improve our
environment we can has a solid impact on these problems. The awareness seminars
and campaigns like “Ain-Amal” which was being initiated in Rawalpindi /
Islamabad (the slogan of which was that small changes in our personal lives
might combine with the whole community and brings revolution) can bring change
and revolution in our society.
The
law, policy and act being passed by the constitutional building institution
i.e. Parliament, must met with the seriousness and firm act. The violation of
these concerned laws must meet with fine and punishment.
Media
must play its role on publicizing the awareness campaigns, although the running
campaigns like “Safe-guard” Pakistan is good enough but these are not fair
enough to meet with the growing environmental challenges which we are facing. Islamic
Scholars must full fill their duty in spreading the natural Islamic viewpoint
on the clean environment.

In a
nutshell, to meet a success you need to take a step, so just a step towards
success is needed, as rightly said that where there is a will there is a way,
if we have a will that we have to keep our environment clean and must not be
the one responsible for the environmental degradation, we might get out of this
trouble very easily.
Saad Iqbal
Hi there, I am Saad Iqbal from Pakistan. I am an enthusiastic blogger, passionate content creator, construction geek, and a creative graphic designer. Connect with me at my social channels.