Counteractive plan to rid Karachi of multifarious pollutions sought

Karachi: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Women Wing Sindh Information Secretary Sharmila Farooqui on Saturday asked the Sindh government to devise an effective, result- oriented counteractive plan to rid Karachi of multifarious pollutions of air, water, noise and sea, which are directly affecting citizens health and causing deaths.

The worst cause of environmental degradation in the sprawling metropolis is air pollution that contains smoke, noise and poisonous chemical particles that cause cancer, heart attacks, asthma and other respiratory diseases among people. Besides, the water contamination is another big issue of pollution in the city which claims lives of over 10,000 people annually, she said in a statement issued here in context of the World Environment Day 2011.

The environment day will be marked tomorrow on June 5 across the world including Pakistan. She said industries and vehicles in the metropolis were producing harmful gases and smoke which had made the atmosphere toxic. She said:

“The chemical gases and smoke are very harmful for the biodiversity in Karachi, while rapid urbanization and global warning have degraded environment in the city at an alarming level, so there is need to tackle these issues in association with environment conservation organizations”

Sharmila said about 75 per cent of the people of the provincial capital consume polluted water, while the smoke pollution is also on the rise as over 1.7 million vehicles are running on the roads in Karachi which is more than half of country’s total vehicular population of 3.5 million and about 300 to 400 new vehicles are added every day in Karachi.

She said Karachi was exposed to heavy pollution of domestic and industrial origin, as most of the coastal pollution was seen at the Karachi harbour, where an estimated 90,000 tonnes of oil products from vessels and port terminals were dumped every year, posing threat to sea life.

Karachi is facing tremendous environment degradations as compared to other cities and towns of the country, which not only causes food shortages in case of water scarcity due to global warming but also badly affected human health, she said.

“The cutting of mangroves along Karachi coast is also a big threat to the environment of the city which needs to be stopped with immediate effect. Forests currently cover only 2.5 percent of Pakistani land area, which is already low but despite this the country has the highest annual deforestation rate in Asia. If the current deforestation rate of 2.1 percent and trend of land conversion from forest to other uses is not checked, the country will not be able to meet its international commitments under the Millennium Development Goals to increase its forest cover from 2.5 per cent to six per cent by 2015”

The global warming is also hitting Pakistan high; therefore, we will have to take result oriented actions to counter this challenge as international study has revealed that average temperature in Pakistan has risen by two degrees in only two years and if the trend goes on unchecked, it could cause natural disasters besides having climatic change and economic impact, she said.

She asked relevant authorities to devise a strategy to install remote sensing systems in Karachi and its surrounding areas to control hacking of mangroves and stop discharge of industrial and municipals waste in the sea so as to save seafood and human life.

The hacking of trees in Karachi and surrounding areas is being continued by people who are unaware about their environmental importance. It is a crime under environmental laws; therefore, stern actions should be taken against those who are involved in this menace, she said. Farooqui said that Pakistan is losing 32,12,357 acres of forests every year since 1992, while the deforestation rate in the country is 2.1% which is the highest in the world.

“Trees generate a large amount of oxygen which is only sources for survival of human life on the earth. They also provide soothing shed and green atmosphere, so the environment and civil society organizations should support the government’s efforts for raising tree cover not only in Karachi but also in other parts of Sindh,” Sharmila said.

She said there was need to ply a large number of CNG buses and converting two-stroke rickshaws into four-stroke, besides ensuring a well-integrated public transport system in the city to tackle smoke pollution. She added that it was also mandatory to establish apartments with full ventilation and to dump municipal waste at landfill sties so as to provide clean air to citizens.

The apartments should be built at greater distances because congestion causes respiratory disease among people, she added. Sharmila asked the government and international environment organizations to jointly start new projects in Karachi to end all kinds of pollutions that are posing an alarming threat to the life of citizens besides affecting nature and earth.

About the author

Saleem Shaikh

The writer is a development journalist. He writes on water, sanitation, environment, climate change, agriculture, women development, human rights, education, health, development budgets and economy.

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