South Asia

Published: Tuesday 31 May 2005

Toxic scare: Residents of Hyderabad city in Pakistan's Sindh province might soon be exposed to several water-borne diseases. The city's irrigation authorities recently declared that toxic water from a local lake will be released into the Indus river, which supplies water to the city.

The controversy is not new to the area. The lakes get filled up by early summer rainfall every year, giving rise to the problem. Many residents believe the 40 deaths in the city in May 2004 due to water-borne diseases were caused by the mixing of toxic water into their water supplies.

The Manchhar lake, from which the water is to be released this time, was once a fresh water reservoir but is now heavily polluted. It gathers all sorts of pollutants, including industrial waste. But irrigation authorities say its water will be harmless if sufficiently diluted. At a recent meeting of the Committee for Emergency Response, formed by the government after the water-related deaths last year, they argued it will be safe to mix one part of polluted lake water in 30 parts of flowing river water. But experts said it will be impossible to ensure that the proportion is maintained. Hyderabad's residents have filed a petition in the High Court to prevent the irrigation department from proceeding with its plan.

Donkey business: Bangladesh will rear donkeys imported from Punjab at a Donkey Reproductive Centre in Rangamati Hill district. The Rangamati Hill District Council recently launched a special scheme to establish the centre in the district livestock office. The imported donkeys will be used in the work of distributing food grains among rural people in hilly areas during disasters. Some donkeys will also be given to poor people for income generation.

"The Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs Ministry imported 20 donkeys for being used as 'porters' to carry goods to the inaccessible areas of this hilly terrain as a test case," said district livestock officer Pryanath Barua. "Preparation of necessary healthcare is a must for the donkeys as five of them are pregnant." A total of 480 donkeys will be imported under the procurement scheme.

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