South Asia

Published: Sunday 30 April 2006

dhaka protests: Bangladesh recently lodged an official protest with India claiming that it had received much less water from the Ganga river than was agreed upon during the Farakka talks. Dhaka said it was receiving about 283 cubic metres per second (cu m/s) less water on average as compared to the water supply during 2005. This violated the 30-year water-sharing treaty between the two countries, it claimed. Bangladesh received only about 444 cu m/s in the last 10 days of March, against about 716 cu m/s in 2005, about 802 cu m/s in 2004 and about 994 cu m/s in 2003, according to the Bangladesh Joint River Commission located at the Farakka barrage point. Dhaka officials said India was withdrawing Ganga water from different points upstream because of an ongoing drought, depriving Bangladesh of its due share. The upstream withdrawal by Indian authorities, by constructing dams and diversion canals, has caused drying up of the river, officials said. The shortfall of water has caused the emergence of char (landmass) near the Hardinge Bridge point in the Padma (the downstream name of the Ganga). The situation is not likely to improve soon because the flow of the Ganga has been the lowest in 50 years.

murky water: A sample survey report conducted in Lahore, Pakistan, found that 75 per cent of water extracted in the city was contaminated. The survey was conducted during the summer of 2005 by the federal ministry of science and technology. Samples collected from schools in 18 locations in the city were declared unfit for human consumption. The biggest cause of pollution was the seepage of sewage from decaying waste pipes into the water supply system. Local industry also contributed to the toxicity of water in the city. The Lahore city authorities found that 142 illegal industrial units, along Multan Road, were releasing effluents into the drainage channels and open ground. This, in turn, entered groundwater -- the main source of drinking water in the city. Over the past few years, outbreaks of disease linked to contaminated water have been reported from in and around Lahore, with a major outbreak of diarrhoeal disease hitting the city in 2005.

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