The Punjab government has given formal approval for setting up a sewage treatment plant along with a 20-kilometre-long sewerage tunnel for the safe disposal of wastewater that aims to minimise environmental pollution in Rawalpindi.

Officials said that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has agreed to provide the required funding for the project, which will cost Rs30 billion.

According to the officials, representatives of the ADB and the National Engineering Services Pakistan will conduct a two-month survey of the project and once approves, its foundation will be laid in March next year.

Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) Chairman Tariq Murtaza told The Express Tribune that it would be a mega project and ll drains of Rawalpindi will be connected to the tunnel that will siphon the sewage to a treatment plant.

He said that water from the city’s drains will also flow into the tunnel, which will be 10ft in circumference and will be installed 10ft below the current depth of the Nullah Leh and fortified with a concrete wall.

Murtaza said the spot where all five water bodies will enter the conduit will be fitted with heavy iron bars that will help separate sewage from bigger garbage, which will be cleaned up on a daily basis.

Once the tunnel is built, Nullah Leh will only be used as a passage for rainwater, he said.

Regarding the water treatment plant, the RDA chairman said that it will be built on 5,500 Kanals of land owned by the Water and Sanitation Agency in Gorakhpur. The plant will treat the entire sewage of Rawalpindi and will then direct the water into the Soan River.

The official said the project will end environmental pollution and remove the stench from Nullah Leh, while there will also be a complete ban on disposing of garbage or building material in Nullah Leh.

Sources said the project was originally pitched in 2008 but was deemed impractical by the then government.