Se­nate body calls for mea­sures to fight coastal pol­lu­tion

Pakistan Observer - - KARACHI CITY - STAFF RE­PORTER

KARACHI—The Se­nate Stand­ing Committee on Cli­mate Change Wed­nes­day ex­pressed its con­cern over soaring level of sea pol­lu­tion, which has de­graded coastal ecosys­tem, par­tic­u­larly man­groves and marine life.

The se­nate body asked the Sindh En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency (SEPA) and Sindh Wildlife and For­est Depart­ment to boost cop­ing mea­sures in col­lab­o­ra­tion with rel­e­vant govern­ment au­thor­i­ties to fight the pol­lu­tion by con­trol­ling dis­posal of un­treated in­dus­trial ef­flu­ents and do­mes­tic sewage into sea.

Presided over by the Se­nate Committee’s Chair­man, Mir Muham­mad Yousaf Ba­dini, he em­pha­sized the sig­nif­i­cance of Pak­istan’s marine and coastal ecosys­tems and the bio­di­ver­sity they sup­port.

It was a mat­ter of con­cern that un­sus­tain­able hu­man in­ter­fer­ence, con­struc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties, con­ver­sion of man­groves area for non-con­firm­ing uses, re­lease of the un­treated in­dus­trial and do­mes­tic sewage had de­prived the coun­try of the sus­tain­abil­ity of such so­cioe­co­nomic and en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits, Mir Muham­mad Yousaf Ba­dini re­gret­ted.

We must re­al­ize that the seas pro­vide a unique set of goods and ser­vices to so­ci­ety, in­clud­ing mod­er­a­tion of cli­mate, pro­cess­ing of waste and tox­i­cants, pro­vi­sion of vi­tal food, medicines and em­ploy­ment for sig­nif­i­cant num­bers of peo­ple.

Our coasts pro­vide space to live and di­rectly and in­di­rectly cre­ate wealth, in­clud­ing mil­lions of jobs in in­dus­tries such as fish­ing, aqua­cul­ture and tourism,” he said.

The Se­nate Committee’s mem­ber, Ms Nuzhat Sadiq, said aware­ness-rais­ing among lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties, stake­hold­ers and en­force­ment of rel­e­vant en­vi­ron­men­tal laws were vi­tal to pro­tect­ing the marine and coastal ecosys­tems from fur­ther degra­da­tion.

Sec­re­tary Cli­mate Change Min­istry, Syed Abu Ahmed Akif, said that Pak­istan’s coastal ar­eas are most likely to face grow­ing cli­mate risks like storm surges, sea level-rise, cy­clones, heat waves, cloud bursts in fu­ture.

‘Cli­mate change poses risks for cities near the ocean and could flood more of­ten or more se­verely, if sea level con­tin­ues to rise. If that hap­pens, many peo­ple will lose their homes and busi­nesses,” he warned.

He sug­gested that these cli­mate change-in­duced risks could be mit­i­gated through adap­ta­tion mea­sures, mainly in­creas­ing man­groves for­est cover and avert­ing en­croach­ment in coastal ar­eas, boost­ing net­work of in­stal­la­tion of early coastal cy­clone warn­ing sys­tems and sen­sit­ing coastal com­mu­ni­ties about pos­si­ble cop­ing mea­sures to save their lives and liveli­hoods.

Sindh Chief Con­ser­va­tor of Forests, Ai­jaz Ahmed Niza­mani, briefed the Se­nate Committee about var­i­ous mea­sures taken for boost­ing man­groves for­est cover in the limit of the prov­ince.

He told the meet­ing that around 110,212 man­groves trees have been planted over last 23 years in dif­fer­ent coastal ar­eas of the prov­ince, with sur­vival ra­tio of over 70 per­cent.

“But re­lease of fresh wa­ter that also car­ries nu­tri­ent-rich silt and de­posits it into the In­dus delta is pre-dom­i­nant cause of the rapid wors­en­ing state of the man­groves forests and was stum­bling-block to the growth of new man­groves forests planted time to time,” Niza­mani said.

Be­sides, in­ad­e­quate flow of fresh wa­ter into the In­dus Delta was also lead­ing to the coastal bank ero­sion and sea in­tru­sion in the in­land fer­tile ar­eas. Other threats in­cluded photo cutting of man­groves for fuel and fod­der and graz­ing pur­poses, he high­lighted.

The chief con­ser­va­tor pointed out that en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists ad­vo­cate a min­i­mum 10 mil­lion acre feet (MAF) fresh­wa­ter dis­charge into the delta for sus­tain­able man­age­ment.

Ap­pris­ing the Se­nate body about the ben­e­fits and ser­vices the coun­try’s man­groves forests pro­vide, the chief con­ser­va­tor said that be­sides be­ing first nat­u­ral wall of de­fence against nat­u­ral calami­ties in­clud­ing cy­clones and sea level rise, the forests are im­por­tant sup­plier of nu­tri­ent and oxy­gen, re­source-rich habi­tat for many species of fish and shrimp.

They also help sta­bilise shore­lines, re­duce coastal ero­sion, pro­tect coastal ar­eas from storm damage and a act as car­bon sinks and nat­u­ral wa­ter treat­ment plants.

KMC work­ers protest­ing against non-pay­ment of salaries in front of Li­aquatabad Town Mu­nic­i­pal Ad­min­is­tra­tion Of­fice.—PO

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