The streets around Karachi’s Lyari River were once lined with lush green trees of neem, almond, plums and mangos. But the river is now heavily polluted with toxic metals and chemical compounds.
“The river is destroying marine life, poisoning the food chain and negatively impacting the lives of hundreds of thousands of people residing along the channel,” says a study recently published in an international journal.
Amid growing concerns over the rapidly disappearing foliage and contamination of Lyari river’s water, students of NED’s architecture and planning department suggest planting trees along and in the banks of Lyari River to turn the sewerage water into freshwater.
“We have discovered a solution to treat Lyari River’s contaminated water by using plants,” said Mashood on SAMAA TV’s programme Naya Din on Wednesday.
Mashood explains that he, along with his friends Fatima and Maheen, have divided the river into 13 sections.
“We have calculated the area by the help of remote sensors and have marked the open area available around Lyari River,” said Mashood. “According to our calculation, there are 650 acres of open area land along the river. To plant trees, we further divided this area into 13 acres of small areas to work on.”
He remarked that on these 13 acres of small spaces they will place 10 acres of wetland systems.
“One wetland system will have 2,000 to 6,000 plants which will treat three miles per gallon of water in a day,” said Mashood.
Fatima explained that using the wetland system, they can treat sewerage water through different plant species with the help of filter media.
“The plants have the potential to treat sewerage water and turn it into freshwater,” said Fatima. “We will be planting some indigenous species of plants, such as cattails and duckweeds all across the Lyari River to get it cleaned.”
She remarked that these indigenous plants are like wild grass that can grow anywhere and cleans water with its roots. “All these plants are locally available in Pakistan,” said Maheen.
“We can use this treated water and sell it to industries, construction companies and can also use it for plantation,” said Maheen. “If we will sell this treated water, we can get a profit of Rs18 million per year.”
The students have claimed that this system will not only clean the water but also solve the problem of water shortage in Karachi.
They said that when they were conducting a survey for the wetland project, they found out that the water which is being distributed across the city from the pipelines which pass the Lyari River also gets contaminated.
This wetland project is also being implemented in Karachi’s Aziz Bhatti Park, they said.
The students have estimated that the whole project will cost Rs9.5 million, excluding an operating cost of Rs7.5 million. They have appealed to the government of Sindh to fund their plan.