DADU: Bashir Mallah, a resident of Goth Hassan Shah which is located on the bank of Pakistan biggest freshwater lake – Manchar – commutes four kilometres daily to fetch drinking water for his family.Mallah and his family are unable to get fresh water, as the lake water has been contaminated by toxic effluents from the waste of agricultural fields in northern Sindh through controversial Right Bank Outfall Drain (RBOD). “We live near the Pakistan’s biggest freshwater lake but we don’t get drinking water from the lake,” Mallah said. It takes Mallah two hours in the morning and the same time in the evening to fetch water from a stream filled by seepage water from the RBOD.“Even the quality of water is not good there but we don’t have other option,” he said. During the visit of this area, one can see people, especially women and children, carrying jerrycans, pitchers and pots, walking miles in search of water.According to a study ‘The Water Gap – The State of the World’s Water 2018’ published by an international non-profit organisation – WaterAid – on the occasion of World Water Day that was observed around the globe on March 22, 21 million in Pakistan don’t have access to clean water. Another recent study conducted by the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) states that 84 percent of the total population of Pakistan does not have access to safe drinking water in a country where commercial banks post windfall profits exceeding Rs 475 billion in three years.Spreading over an area of 350 Sq km that swells to 500 Sq km during monsoon, the lake is divided into Dadu and Jamshoro district, the home district of Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah. On the complaints of the local residents of around 100, Sindh government has installed 20 reverse osmosis plants to provide filtered water, but almost all the plants stopped working just one year after becoming operational.“In September 2017, the Sindh government directed the Sindh Irrigation Department and the project management of the Right Bank Outfall Drainage to stop operation of the RO plants,” claimed Sher Muhammad Mallah, a local resident of Goth Saindad Mallah. Contamination of lake has forced hundreds of thousands of people of nearby villages to migrate to other areas, said Nasir Ali Panhwar of Friends of Indus Forum.“If the lake is rehabilitated, it can boost eco-tourism industry and locals can be provided livelihood,” said Panhwar.Published in Daily Times, March 23rd 2018.