City Coastal areas remain neglected

KARACHI - Coastal belts of the Karachi are neglected areas, where not only pollution is rampant but negligence on the part of the government agencies is also at high level. The provincial as well as the federal government are equally responsible to neglect the affairs of coastline that stretches from Sindh to Balochistan. According to Tahir Qureshi, a renowned environmentalist, Its a sorry state of the affairs that due to government laxity, pollution has risen at a tremendous speed at the coastline; more over the three major culprits in creating havoc with the coastline are industrialization, urbanization and the menace of port construction. Though, it is this coastline, alone that feeds numerous countries of the world with the best quality of sea-food, and earns Rs 8.8 billion annually on export of fish and shrimps. It is highly incoherent to think that the coastline suffers gravely at the hands of government officials. The main concerns which need to be elaborated are the causes of bio-diversity, the on-going depletion of ecological conditions that has in recent times led to the removal of mangroves plantation and a reduced fisheries catch. Qureshi further explained, Let me tell you that there is no integrated coastal zones management program. People and institutions are working in isolation and no team-work seems to be progressing in the direction of resolving coastline issues of pollution and reduced fisheries catch. What suffers more gravely is the local population that is getting no benefit out of it, though their livelihoods may be attached to it. Secondly, the failure of getting requisite administrative research work done in a composite manner. Pollution of the marine environment is another proximate cause of biodiversity loss in the coastal areas of Pakistan. Untreated industrial effluents and agricultural run off are the major sources of coastal and marine pollution. Effluents containing Lead, Mercury and other heavy metals mainly from tanneries are most harmful to marine life. It is estimated that about 37,000 tons of industrial waste is being dumped yearly in the coastal environment of Karachi whereas, 20,000 tons of oil finds its way to beaches and harbors and the fishing grounds of Karachi annually. High concentration of these pollutants results in bioaccumulation of toxic compounds. The situation is worsening with every passing day and resulting in huge losses to economic productivity and biodiversity, as well. Fisheries sector plays a vital role not only for the well being of the local communities but, also contributes significantly to the national income. This important resource has not received attention from the government for its long-term sustainability. A comprehensive plan is required to address the issues hampering the development of this vital resource with particular focus on proper jetties, ban on use of illegal nets, fish storage and processing facilities and elimination of fisher folks debt cycle, he added.