Unhygienic ice spreads diseases in Karachi

KARACH: With rise in temperature of the city, the consumption of ice and other cold drinks has increased, but who knows that while using this ice made commercially by small ice factories, which innocently looks so transparent and clean, one can suffer from hazardous diseases.

An ice depot owner in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Amjad Hussain, said that normally water from tankers was used in making ice. “We use water supplied by tankers from the pumping stations of Karachi Water and Sewerage Board,” he said.

On a query if he carries out test of the water being used in making ice, Hussain said that it was impossible for them to go for test of every water tanker.”It is the responsibility of the KWSB, from where we get this water to check it for bacteria.”

When indicated that his ice factory was constructed just adjacent to a garbage bin, he ignored and said, “Sab Chalta hai (Everything happens here).”

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a KWSB employee at Shah Faisal Colony Pumping Station said that throughout the years, we have not checked the quality of water being used for drinking and cooking purposes by citizens.

“Last week, officials from the health ministry came and took samples of the water,” he said adding that it was only due to rise in deaths of people from water-borne diseases, especially Naegleria fowleri, which forced the department to come.

When contacted, a senior official of the provincial Health Department said that the standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency were not followed by ice factories, by and large.

“We had raided different ice factories in the past and also issued warnings to some of them asking them to ensure clean environment and use water filter plants in the factory,” he said.

“Owners of the ice factories whose water samples had been found unfit had been told to stop producing ice until they ensured proper quality of water on the premises.”

A senior physician at Aga Khan Hospital, Dr Naseem Zehra said that usually people did not know how harm this transparent ice can cause to their health.

“Diseases like Cholera, Dysentery, Polio, Hepatitis-A and others can be caused from using unhygienic ice,” she said.

Meanwhile, despite repeated calls to the KSWB Managing Director and other officials, no one was available for the comment.

The Karachiities appeal to the concerned authorities, health department and KWSB, to ensure supply of healthy water in order to avoid spreading hazardous diseases.

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