It’s not often that you manage to gather industry, government, academia, and the public in one room to tackle a tough issue. In this case, that issue was industrial wastewater, the management of which presents a major challenge in Pakistan for the Indus River Basin’s local ecosystems and drinking water quality.
Organized by the U.S.-Pakistan Centers for Advanced Studies in Water (USPCASW), the industrial wastewater seminar took place in Karachi and included stakeholder presentations, Q&A sessions, and remarks from judicial and government officials. “I am a polluter,” declared the first presenter, Gulzar Feroz, chairman of an environmental committee of the Pakistan Commerce and Industry Chambers. “If I don’t speak about the environment,” he continued, “I don’t do my job honestly.”
One of the major issues that arose was who is responsible for leading the charge—and footing the bill—on industrial wastewater treatment. While everyone seemed to agree that both industry and government should be held accountable, the division of duties proved a matter of serious debate that remains yet to be resolved.
The seminar led to increased awareness about industrial wastewater problems and solutions among all participants, as well as newly sparked connections between wastewater treatment professionals, UPSCAS-W researchers, and industry representatives. And, as Feroz observed, things are moving in “the right direction” with five new wastewater treatment plants already underway in the city of Karachi.