Wednesday, May 27, 2009
By Our Correspondent
A two-day workshop on “Environmental Literacy through Picture Map Analysis” concluded at the Lahore College for Women University (LCWU) on Tuesday with a conclusion that the university in collaboration with Japanese research partners will take practical actions to address environmental and health issues caused by the Hudiara drain.
According to a press statement, the workshop was jointly organised by Environmental Science Department of LCWU, Lahore Environmental Awareness Forum (LEAF), Urban Development and Environmental Research Centre (UDERC) and International Centre for Literacy and Culture (ICLC), Japan.
In her welcome speech, Prof Dr Kausar Cheema, dean of Faculty of Natural Sciences and head of Environmental Science Department, informed the participants that Environmental Science Department had strong research collaboration with three Japanese institutions, adding that the workshop would lead to initiate an action oriented research to benefit rural people living in villages along Hudiara Drain.
Famous Japanese philosopher and creative writer Mr Shinji Tajima, who was the master trainer for this workshop, mentioned that this joint workshop on Hudiara Drain was a continuity of his commitment with the late Malik Meraj Khalid to aware citizens of Pakistan and India of the serious environmental and health issues of Hudiara Drain.
The main objectives of the workshop were to provide understanding and learning experience for environmental literacy using informal way of education by using case of increasing pollution of Hudiara Drain in Lahore. Hudiara Drain is a natural storm water channel that originates from Batala in Gurdaspur district, India and enters into Pakistan at village Laloo.
According to the press statement, “After flowing for nearly 55 km inside Pakistan Hudiara Drain enters the River Ravi. All along its route in India and Pakistan, wastewater, sewage, and industrial pollutants are discharged into the drain without any proper prior treatment. As a result, organic wastes and toxic chemicals have badly affected aquatic life both in this drain and in the River Ravi.
Farmers living near Hudiara Drain frequently use its water for irrigation.”It said, “Investigations have shown that this water has high concentrations of heavy metals. Long-term irrigation from Hudiara Drain has resulted in the accumulation of higher concentrations of heavy metals in the surface soil.
This is toxic to soil, fauna and flora and undoubtedly enter into the food chain. Local population is directly affected by contact with drain water and also through consumption of groundwater.
Health effects on local community, effect of irrigation on soil quality, adverse effects on fauna and flora and continuously increasing pollution in river Ravi are the direct threats of the increasing pollution in this water channel.”
Total 30 participants attended the workshop. Dr Tajima and Ms Rukhsana Zeb delivered lectures on “The concept of picture map analysis (PMA) for environmental issues and its implementation” and “How to construct painting” respectively.
LCWU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Bushra Mateen chaired the closing session of the workshop. She emphasised the need to prepare a comprehensive database of health, livestock biodiversity and land being cultivated using wastewater from Hudiara Drain.
Dr M Atiq ur Rahman, assistant professor, LCWU, stressed the need to prepare GIS database about socio-cultural and economic factors along with monitoring of air, groundwater, and soil contamination caused by industrial wastewater discharged by industries on Indian side as well as Pakistan side.