ISLAMABAD – A Senate panel on Friday rejected the findings of a recent international study that claimed that the entire groundwater in the Indus Plain had been contaminated with high levels of arsenic, posing a significant health risk to tens of millions of people who drink the water.

During a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Science and Technology presided over by its chairman Senator Osman Saifullah Khan, the officials of Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) insisted that the journal ‘Advance Sciences’ data are ‘wildly exaggerated’.

Briefing the chairman and members of the standing committee, officials of PCRWR, which functions under the Ministry of Science and Technology, said that in the report the researchers had given a wrong impression that arsenic was present in the groundwater of the entire country.

“On the basis of samples taken from only 1,200 wells in the country, they cannot claim that the entire groundwater of Pakistan is contaminated with high levels of arsenic,” said an official of PCRWR, adding that arsenic was only present in areas which received floodwater.

“Arsenic is not present in Balochistan, Islamabad or Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, but along with Dera Ismail Khan and Ziarat, it is only present in a few parts of Sindh and Punjab,” said the official.

Declaring ground water of Ziarat as unsafe for drinking, the PCRWR officials revealed that water samples collected from the area indicated high levels of arsenic contamination.

The officials admitted that unfortunately Pakistan, apart from other South Asian countries, lacked resources to control the threat.

The officials also informed the committee members that Pakistan followed its own standard of measuring arsenic in water.

They also informed the committee members that the concerned authorities had closed 200 points that were manufacturing bottled water which was highly contaminated and posed serious health risks.