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Sindh government urged to stem land grabbing in coastal areas, pollution

Karachi, May 26, 2016 (PPI-OT):Members of the Senate’s Standing Committee on Climate Change urged the Sindh government to weed out land mafia, which is devouring mangroves forest areas in Sindh and fast converting them into housing societies.

“Continuous unlawful land-grabbing of mangroves forests areas in the coastal areas of the Sindh province has exacerbated the climate-vulnerability of the country’s biggest metropolis of Karachi, exposing the people and their livelihoods to the risks of storm surges, cyclones and sea intrusion,” the Senate Committee’s Chairman, Senator Mir Muhammad Yousaf Badini told media briefing here on Thursday.

The Senate’s Committee Chairman was sharing his observation about current depressing state of coastal pollution and mangroves forests in the coastal areas of Karachi here at the Qasr-e-Naz government residence. The members of the Senate Standing Committee under the leadership of its Chairman Senator Mir Muhammad Yousaf Badini toured the coastal areas of Karachi to take detailed stock of the current state of pollution, deforestation mangroves forests, level of degradation of coastal and marine ecosystems.

He told media that knowing about release of untreated 500 million gallons of water into sea had come as a great shock for the members of the Senate body. Because, it has caused a massive damage to the rich marine and coastal ecosystem and has made it nearly impossible for the standing mangroves forests to survive any more.

“These mangroves forests provide an strong natural defence against the exacerbating climate change-induced disasters in shape of sea storms, cyclones and sea intrusion and erosion in coastal areas. Besides, these forests provide nutrient-rich habitats for marine fisheries,” Mr. Badini highlighted. He regretted in strong terms, “But we have played havoc with the divine blessing and have completely eroded much of the mangroves forests.”

Mir Muhammad Yousaf Badini told media that the Senate body members were appalled by the extremely dismal state of coastal areas, which have become highly contaminated and how mangroves forests are being destroyed in coastal areas around Karachi by land mafia, cattle grazing and their cutting for fuel wood purposes.

“The provincial forest, Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and relevant government authorities must wake up to the grim state of coastal areas and ecology and play their part to protect and conserve natural resources in the coastal areas,” he urged.

The Chairman Senate’s Standing Committee, however, pledged to work with the provincial governments of Sindh and Balochistan to hammer out a mechanism and initiate policy measures for protecting coastal and marine ecosystems and further boosting the mangroves forest cover to mitigate vulnerability of the coastal communities and their livelihoods to the climate change risks, particularly sea intrusion and cyclones.

The Senate Committee’s member and PML-N leader, Ms Nuzhat Sadiq, called for setting up treat plants in industrial zones and on sewage drains from where the highly contaminated industrial effluents and domestic sewage pass and disgorge into the sea. “Complacency on this score by the relevant Sindh government authorities is no option and the provincial government should release its role in this regard to show the political leadership and interest in protecting the marine and coastal ecology from further devastation,” she stressed.

The Member of the Senate body, PML-N Senator Saleem Zia said that role of the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (SEAP) is important in protecting coastal and marine ecosystems from being further degraded with pollution of all kinds. They must ensure that the environmental culprits must face the legal proceedings and punishment in the light of environmental laws. They the SEPA must ensure that environmental laws are practically in place and are no way violated, no matter howsoever is polluting the coastal areas,” he said.

Earlier, Federal Climate Change Secretary, Syed Abu Ahmed Akif, said that some treatment plants exist but they are not fully able to treat such a huge amount of untreated water that flows into the sea and damages the sea life. He urge the provincial government to allocate more resources to increase capacity of the treatment plants to treat more sewage water before it makes its way into sea.

Syed Abu Akif told media that freshwater availability is fast becoming rare commodity in the port city of Karachi. Re-cycling water provides an effective and viable solution to address the worsening issue of water availability in the city. “At least, we must use re-cycled water planting trees and grass in the city, in our houses, commercial and industrial areas to overcome the issue,” he suggested.

Talking about implementation of the National Climate Change Policy, he told media that federal government is working in close collaboration with the provincial governments for actualization of policy recommendations/measures proposed in the policy to boost climate-resilience of the country against climate risks, particularly floods, sea level-rise, coastal erosion, shifting rainfall patters and heat waves.

“The Ministry is working on establishment of National Climate Change Authority and National Climate change Council to boost the collaboration to expedite the policy implementation process and enforce environmental laws for checking their violation in any form and manifestation,” the climate change secretary said.

Meanwhile, the Committee members appreciated the role of media in raising awareness about these very issues of the coastal areas and highlighting poor role of the relevant government authorities in failing to cope with these issues.

He also appreciated the role of Sindh forest and wildlife department in increasing areas under mangroves forests. But this forest department should be equipped with more funds and technical and non-technical resources to increase their ability to address these issues and further expand area under mangroves forests as a part of climate change adaptation.

For more information, contact:
Muhammad Saleem
Deputy Director
Media and Communication
Ministry of Climate Change
Government of Pakistan
LG and RD Complex, G-5/2, ISLAMABAD
Ph: 051-9245565
E-mail: moccpakistan@hotmail.com
Web: http://www.mocc.gov.pk/

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