BY OUR CORRESPONDENT
GILGIT: The Water Quality Testing Laboratory set up last year in Karakoram International University (KIU) has become first lab of its kind in Gilgit – Baltistan [G-B] to get certification from Environmental Protection Agency [EPA].
The laboratory was established in 2013 through an Italian government’s project, Social Economic Environment Development (SEED), which funded the facility through non-profit association EV-K2-CNR. The association aims to promote scientific and technological research with particular emphasis on the Hindu Kush-Karakoram-Himalayan region.
“Here is a good news that the lab has been granted certification for fulfilling the criteria,” said Khadim Hussain, an assistant director at EPA, Gilgit office on Tuesday.
“The lab is ably maintained and looked after by the staff,” said Hussian who along with other technical staff inspected the lab this week before issuing the certification.
The KIU laboratory team is headed by Maisoor Nafees, who is an Assistant professor in the university.
As part of criteria set to get certification, a lab must not be adjacent to an open sewerage drain or factory from which emissions of air pollutants or discharge of effluents may adversely affect the reliability of its tests and analyses.
In addition to that qualified and experienced scientific and technical staff and appropriate analytical equipment and apparatus are also a must.
Similarly the laboratory must have installed a comprehensive scientific system of reporting test results, supported by data handling facilities and has proper waste disposal arrangements.
The KIU lab met all the criterion points, Hussain told Outpost.
After accreditation by EPA, it is now possible to outsource the services to the public and private sector organizations in general and for the people of G-B in particular, lab administrator Nafees told Outpost.
This will ensure safe and clean drinking water to the communities living in the remotest areas, he added.
Nafees appreciated efforts of Vice Chancellor KIU Dr Asif Khan and especially Dr Andrea Lami and his team from Institute of Ecosystem Studies Verbania city, Italy, who made it possible by capacity building of laboratory staff and calibration of equipment.
The water testing facility is intended to assess water quality from villages surrounding Central Karakoram National Park (CKNP), the largest national park of the country.
CKNP covers a vast protected area, spreading over 1,000 square kilometres in G-B, with four out of seven districts – Ghanche, Skardu, Gilgit and Hunza – encompassing it. The largest source of freshwater in the CKNP is the glaciers, which cover almost 40% of the national park’s total area. The park also houses 60 peaks that rise 7,000 metres above sea level, with some of the world’s highest and most famous peaks including K-2.
According to estimates, over 90,000 villagers in 230 villages in the buffer zone of CKNP stand to benefit from the facility.