Farming with toxic water in Quetta

Published on – July 8, 2019 – 7:00 am
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In the last few years, Pakistan has been amongst the countries to undertake campaigns against unhygienic food supply, but the fear that this is only the tip of the iceberg lingers. The UN has recently hosted a two-day forum for officials from 125 countries to discuss the issue of food safety. Unsafe food is a regular feature in the market place. 


In the last few years, Pakistan has been amongst the countries to undertake campaigns against unhygienic food supply, but the fear that this is only the tip of the iceberg lingers. The UN has recently hosted a two-day forum for officials from 125 countries to discuss the issue of food safety. Unsafe food is a regular feature in the market place.

It is not an easy one to resolve either. If the developed world is seeing more food recalls than ever before due to contamination, there is little hope that the developing world can do better.

Balochistan Food Authority launched a crackdown on toxic veggies and crops grown with sewerage water and discarded hundreds of tonnes of ready vegetables grown with polluted water.

“The BFA’s slogan of providing healthy food (from farm to fork) is not merely a saying but is our top priority,” he said, adding sewerage water should be used for irrigating non-edible crops like bamboos, flowers and indoor plants.

The Food authority had warned of irrigating vegetables and fruits by sewerage water and water contaminated with textile waste, as they caused fatal diseases.

A statement issued by the authority had also warned of a stern legal action against violators by discarding ready crops in the fields.

Recently, all vegetables being cultivated by using sewage waters will be wasted and compensation will be provided to the labourers by the government. It is unsightly to see solid waste of hospitals and houses floating over the filthy water in the area. The water flows towards the low-lying area of Quetta Valley. Farmers near Sabzal Road and Spinney Road are known for using this water. The farmers are not just supplying dirty vegetables in Balochistan, these vegetable also supplied to Karachi and other many parts of Sindh. It seems there is no stopping the use of contaminated water.

Health experts believe that the consumption of these vegetables has led to rise in serious health problems like liver diseases, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. The government and concerned authorities are aware of the situation and are yet to take action to stop this hazardous practice, while the local administration expresses helplessness.

The fact the use of industrial wastewater for cultivation was on the rise as Pakistan faced shortage of water. Selling food or drinks that are not fit for consumption is a punishable offence under Section 273 of the Pakistan Penal Code. The Pure Food Ordinance, 1960 also holds a seller responsible for supplying food, including raw vegetables that are poisonous.

They have suggested to the government to make stringent and alternative measures to overcome this menace which is causing widespread heart and viral deceases. Ironically, there is no proper drainage system to dispose of the solid and water waste in these cities. Even potable water is adulterated by the waste and dirty water of our cities.

“There are lots of toxic elements in the vegetables, along with bacteria and viruses.” The solution lays in water treatment plants. “The consumption of this produce should be banned for people. This growing vegetable is fit only for animals. The farmers need to be given alternatives, but the government has so far failed to provide any. That is why the practice continues.”

We have suggested in these columns recently that the Government should use fund to recycle water and use it for cleaning, producing fruits and vegetables and in some areas wheat.

The concept of waste water storage, management and treatment should be used so that bulk water should be used for agriculture, particularly producing fruits and vegetables or irrigating score of Quetta orchards in the valley. The Government can store enough waste water for re-cycling for planting trees and making Quetta green and environment friendly. The single project to recycle used water can change the fate of Quetta Valley and resolve half of the problem of water shortage in this Baloch Capital.