Saturday, 24th June 2017

When filtration plants pollute water

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BY OUR CORRESPONDENT

GILGIT: Naz Ara had always been cautions about her family’s health. And perhaps that’s why she was always cared much about using clean drinking water.

A water filtration plant nearby her home in Gilgit had addressed her concern to a larger extend.

The Water Filtration Plant at Kashrote was one of the dozens installed during general (R) Pervez Musharraf government to provide clean drinking water facility to general public.

The facility nearby her home was opened for public twice a day for almost an hour – in the morning and evening.

Ara would take the bottles to the plants and filled them out daily, ensuring the facility offered by the government free of cost is availed fully. She often advised her neighbors to benefit from the facility to stay healthy.

“Why are you bent on spending on health of your family? This is uncalled for. Why don’t you avail the facility made just for you?” Ara would also ask her neighbors most of who relied more on the tap water available to them at homes instead of fetching the water from the filtration plant that was just on a five-minute walk.

But she was baffled when she read a news report in a paper in December that government issued orders to close down all the filtration plants in the city as the water wasn’t fit for human consumption.

The deputy commissioner Gilgit Ajmal Bhatti in December ordered closure of the plants after Environmental protection agency [EPA] termed its water unsafe for the human consumption.

“I was just bewildered. It was a shocking news for me as I had been using contaminated water for so long. Not only this, I also urged others to follow the suit,” said Ara who is mother of three children and lives in Kashrote area.

 “I know realize that those avoiding ‘this facility’ were better off,” the dejected mother told Outpost this week.

Ara was certain the caretaker would be doing the necessary cleansing of filtration plant regularly keeping the quality of the water high. 

“Of the 56 water filtration plants we inspected, only two were in good order while the rest were providing contaminated water containing high number of E.coli colonies.,” said Khadim Hussain, an assistant director in the EPA.

 E.coli is an indicator organism of water quality. When it found in water samples, it means water contains other pathogenic microorganism which can cause typhoid, diarrhea, gastroenteritis and many other diseases in human beings.

According to experts, water pollution is one of the major threats to public health in Pakistan. Drinking water quality is poorly managed and monitored. Pakistan ranks at number 80 among 122 nations regarding drinking water quality. Drinking water sources, both surface and groundwater are contaminated with coliforms, toxic metals and pesticides throughout the country. Various drinking water quality parameters set by WHO are frequently violated.

Tahira Yasub becomes first woman SP of G-B

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BY OUR CORRESPONDENT

GILGIT: Tahira Yasub, Gilgit-Baltistan’s (G-B) first DSP traffic, was on Thursday received yet another honour as she became the first woman SP of G-B.

In a ceremony, she was given the ranks by the IGP and outgoing chief minister Mehdi Shah.

A graduate in International Relations from Karakoram International University, She was selected twice for UN peacekeeping missions to represent Pakistan.

She trained the local police as well as the UN police for 14 months in Sudan and has recently returned to the country. Yusab has the added distinction of being the first lady inspector in G-B’s history.

Tick tock: 12 hours left before anarchy reigns in G-B

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BY OUR CORRESPONDENT

GILGIT: Gilgit – Baltistan [G-B] legislative assembly met on the first day of the last session on Monday as clouds of uncertainty loom over future of the region.

The five years terms of the G-B government is set to end on 10 December but there is no clue as who will replace it. While the G-B Governance Order 2009 lacks a provision for an interim setup required to run the affairs till elections, the federal government is also tight lipped about it, giving rise to suspicions over a possible constitutional breakdown.

“Can the chief minister tell this house whats going to happen after December 10,” asked Rahmat Khaliq, a lawmaker from Jamiat Ulma-e-Islam – Fazal [JUI-F].

“We are being kept in the dark about our future. I therefore suggest chief minister to dissolve the assembly and announce a date for election,” Khaliq told the assembly chaired by speaker Wazir Baig on the first day of the 41 session of G-B assembly.

Mirza Hussain of Pakistan Muslim League – Quaid said G-B Governance Order allows governor to reappoint the existing chief minister for a certain period but for that matter CM will have to take fresh oath.

The interpretation was rejected by the law minister Ali Madad Sher saying the governance order doesn’t asks for a fresh oath. “It can be done without any fresh oath.”

Sher said a letter has been written to prime minister for an amendment in the Governance Order but that hasn’t been replied so far. “lets see what happens after December 10.”

Resolutions passed

 The house passed three resolutions on its last day. The first resolution was tabled by PPP lawmakers including Abdul Hameed and Ayub Shah condemning the statement of federal information minister Pervaiz Rashid over G-B constitutional status. The minister had recently said ‘geographically Gilgit-Baltistan is a part of Pakistan, but legally it is not part of Pakistan.’

“To say that G-B isn’t constitutional part is tantamount to insulting the sacrifices made by its people for Pakistan,” said Ayub Shah, reading out the resolution that was passed with majority votes after a prolonged debate. Except for PML-N and a nationalist leader Nawaz Khan Naji, the rest voted in favour of its passing.

Jamil Ahmed, deputy speaker demanded lodging a case of treason against the federal minister under article 6 of Pakistani constitution.

The assertion was rejected by Naji and PML-N lawmakers saying what federal minister said was based on facts as G-B is linked to larger Kashmir issue. “The words of federal minister are misinterpreted. He didn’t mean what these people are saying,” said Naji.

In the second resolution, tabled Abdul Hameed and others, and was passed by the house unanimously. The house demanded action against those involved in the trade of narcotics.

The third resolution, which was also passed unanimously, condemned the attack on JUI-F leader Dr Soomro in Sindh, asking for arrest of the killers.

‘Go Nisar Go’

 As PML-Q leader Hussain criticised Rasheed, Ali’s slip of tongue resulted in a resounding ‘Go Nisar Go’ instead of ‘Go Chaudhry Shujaat Go’. The lawmaker kept repeating it for a while before he realized his mistake, prompting the house to burst into laughter.

Alam Bridge

The lawmakers from Baltistan region took serious note of Alam bridge collapse that cut off Baltistan region from rest of the country this week. The legislators asked for an inquiry and punishment to those responsible for the mishap.

The house will meet again today [Tuesday].

After caretaker CM: Is Mehdi Shah entitled to official protocol?

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BY OUR CORRESPONDENT

GILGIT: While a caretaker chief minister has been appointed, questions are being raised over ‘legality of the official protocol’ being used by Mehdi Shah.

“Mehdi Shah lost his entitlement for a protocol the moment caretaker chief minister was notified,” well-place sources aware of protocol formalities told Outpost on Thursday.

Sher Jehan Mir was appointed as interim chief minister for three months on Tuesday [December 9] after G-B government completed its five-year term the same day.

“This is illegal, unlawful and against the ethics using flag, and Mehdi Shah isn’t unaware of that,” said the sources, referring to the protocol.

Mehdi Shah was seen in his official protocol on Wednesday and Thursday as he moved in his official car from one place to another in the city.

The sources claimed Mehdi Shah was acting even against the consent of the governor.

When Mehdi Shah made it to Gilgit press club where he addressed journalists on Thursday, he was asked if the protocol wasn’t illegal. “No, this isn’t illegal. I am legally chief minister by Thursday mid-night,” he said. “I still sit in my office and sign documents as chief minister.”

 The appointment of Mir was made by federal government after making necessary amendments in the G-B governance order 2009, under which G-B’s constitutional status was brought at par with a province.

Baltistan cut off from country as part of Alam Bridge collapses

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BY OUR CORRESPONDENT

GILGIT: A major portion of a strategic bridge linking Baltistan region with rest of the country and Gilgit – Baltistan [G-B] has collapsed, leading to suspension of traffic on the second consecutive day.

‘Alam Bridge’ as it is called, sustained damaged on Thursday evening when a loaded truck was passing over it. The truck was heading towards Rawalpindi from Skardu town when it got stuck in the middle of the bridge, leaving the driver and his other colleague in a precarious situation.

The two men reportedly jumped off the vehicle to save their lives and made it safely across the bridge. Later, the truck was removed with the help of engineers from the Frontier Works Organization (FWO) which is responsible for the bridge’s maintenance.

“The incident has happened but thank God nothing happened like loss of human life or the property,” said a police official on Saturday, adding the bridge was closed for traffic immediately to prevent any mishap.

According to travellers, vehicles heading to Gilgit and other parts of the country from Baltistan were stopped near Alam Bridge and the drivers were told to return or wait for resumption of traffic on the crossing.

“This was bound to happen because the bridge wasn’t fit to cater to the needs of so many areas for such a long time,” said Farman Ali, a resident of Baltistan which includes Skardu, Ghanche and Shigar among other towns and has a population of over 300,000 people.

 “This is the only bridge linking the whole Baltistan region and I think it should have been replaced with an RCC bridge much earlier,” he added.

The incident triggered criticism in G-B against Mehdi Shah government that has been accused of mismanagement and corruption in the past. “The chief minister has disappointed us,” said Baltistan region chief of Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz [PML-N] Fida Nashad. “This strategic bridge should have been replaced with a better one over this five year. But this didn’t happen,” Nashad sair, referring to G-B government that is completing its five year tenure on 10 December.

An FWO spokesperson in Gilgit told Outpost the engineers have started repairing the bridge and traffic would be allowed on it within the next 24 hours.

“The engineers have began repairing the bridge and we are hopeful it would be fit for traffic by tomorrow,” said the spokesman.

The bridge, built with combination of iron rods and wood, is one of the longest bridges in Gilgit – Baltistan with about more than 300 meters in length.

In view of the bridge’s safety, FWO kept its men deployed at the bridge to ensure vehicles don’t pass it speedily.  In addition, trucks and other loaded vehicles weren’t allowed to carry weight beyond 20 tons while passing the bridge.

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