POLLUTION IN Pakistan is a major environmental and economic concern, growing hastily with the increase in population, mainly due to poor pollution management, public awareness and weak enforcement of environmental policies. Among the major types of the pollution in the country are air, water and solid waste pollutions. Being a developing country with a limited budget, the effects of these pollutants are an aided burden on national health system and economy.
Rapid urbanization and industrial growth in the country is also altering the quality of air in major cities, largely due to emissions from power plants, industries and vehicles especially from those having poor efficiency and mechanical condition. Air pollution is costing the Pakistan 1 per cent of total GDP in the form of respiratory health problems and premature deaths. The quality of air is not only associated with health problems, it also has considerable impact on our agriculture, particularly on the yield of wheat which is a key crop of our country, according to a research conducted on three different varieties of wheat crops of Pakistan showed significant reduction in agricultural yield as well as nutrition value of the crop, essentially due to presence of Sox, Nox and O3 in the air. In order to improve the quality of air in urban areas, the most effective solution is tree plantation. On the other hand in rural areas air quality can be improved by locating industries away from agricultural land and by reducing usage of cow dung and wood as a household burning fuel.
Water pollution in Pakistan is potent cause to many environmental and health issues. The main pollutants for the ground level waters are the industrial effluents and sewage waters which contaminate directly into water, while for the underground level, fertilizers and pesticides are key pollutants as they dissolve in water and seep to the underground water bodies. According to UNICEF 20 to 40 percent of the total beds occupied in hospitals of Pakistan are from those suffering from water related diseases, costing nearly 1.81 per cent of the total GDP of the country. Water pollution also influence the agriculture of Pakistan, as increase in salinity and water logging at irrigated land decreases the fertility of soil, costing Pakistan 0.9 per cent of the GDP. In order to reduce the health impacts, provision of drinking water of standard quality at cheap price by water stations to the public is also a feasible alternate, which currently working very effectively in many countries. Moreover to coop with saline land and less productive land, the awareness in the farmers regarding choosing less salt sensitive crop, usage of appropriate fertilizer and right irrigation patterns on the saline land can contribute to enhance production.
With the growth of population the amount of solid waste generated is also escalating. According to the Pakistan Environment Protection Agency report, the household waste generated in Pakistan by per capita is 0.283 kg to 0.613 kg/day and by per house is 1.896 kg to 4.29 kg/day. In big cities like Karachi the waste contains 8.41 per paper, 8.11 per cent cardboard, 6.20 per cent plastic, 5.21 per cent glass, 4.08 per cent & metal and 8.93 per cent textiles, together they all contribute nearly 41 per cent of total house hold waste. Without proper waste recycling system most of the waste contributes to landfills and dumpsites where it is often burned to reduce the volume which contributes to further pollution and greenhouse effect. However, the household solid waste generated in bigger cities of Pakistan has a high potential of recycling rather than burning in open atmosphere or just contributing to landfills. Recycling aluminum can save up to 95 per cent and steel can save up to 55 per cent energy of what would be require in extracting from raw ore, similarly recycling plastic, paper and glass can save up to 90 per cent, 60 per cent and 30 per cent respectively. Large capacity recycling centers can be very useful alternate in contrast to landfills and dumpsites, as they not only dispose trash but also to save energy which is key requirement for developing nations.
The statistics show that Pakistan’s economy has a noteworthy impact on it from different types of pollutions and therefore needs attention. However this dire situation can be controlled by strictly regulating the environmental friendly policies, primary focus should be on quality of drinking water and air with respect to national and international standards. The drinking water quality should be regularly monitored and tested especially for chemical and bacterial presence. Similarly the fuels and oils available in the market should be regularly tested for sulfur and other harmful chemicals in them and industries and vehicles should be enforced to meet emission standards by regular inspections. Further the solid waste recycling is also a profitable business and can be very attractive for investors.