Kausar Fatima describes Karachi Port Trust hosts Climate Change event
Karachi Port Trust hosts Climate Change event is widely acknowledged as discharging its role as a responsible corporate citizen in this context and it hosted an event focusing the evolving process of climate change. In this regard, KPT in collaboration with federal ministries of maritime affairs and climate change held a round table discussion about climate change and the environment during the launch of an in-depth report/study Environmental Scoping Study, The Lyari River —#SeeingTheUnseen. The event was attended by Sherry Rehman, federal minister for Climate Change, Faisal Subzwari, federal minister for Maritime Affairs and S.M. Tariq Huda, Chairman Karachi Port Trust.
The subject of discussion was a study showing how Karachi is at a great risk as it falls among the top 10 cities in terms of area and population and visibly suffers from the urban sprawl. The environmental position of Karachi is simply getting out of hand and it requires a herculean effort to put it right. With the current efforts it looks well-nigh impossible to rectify the current scenario and this perception is acutely appreciated by the Chairman KPT who is a keen environtamentalist and is passionate about the subject.
There is certainly a deep cause for concern as the city is been dumped by all types of solid waste into Karachi’s drains, rivers and its coastal wasters is a common phenomenon. The report pointed out that each day, it is through the Lyari outfall that 8,000 tonnes of solid waste is dumped into the harbour. It also pointed out that the marine pollution control department is removing 2.5 metric tons of solid waste from the harbour daily, which is not enough as it resolves just three per cent of the problem that actually is far more severe than described. The debris removed includes approximately 40 per cent of plastic most of which is in the form of polythene bags. This is a killer not only for the marine life but also pollutes water with toxic waste considered harmful for human life.
It was agreed during the round-table discussion moderated by Mosharraf Zaidi that keeping the Lyari River clean is not the job of one institution. It is a far bigger problem that needs consistent attention, resources, financial wherewithal and active collaboration of host of agencies committed to environmental issues as well as urban development. It was asserted that facing this massive task required a collective and cumulative approach not bifurcated by segments of the issue and is required to be uniform in content and implementation. This was emphasised that the issue is far more than removal of garbage and trash in the water but also close the tap at the community level by building a sense of consciousness and civic sense towards Karachi’s ecology.
Federal Minister Faisal Subzwari welcomed the participants and appreciated the interest of the participants in such an important issue. He lamented that the neglect shown to this issue has been detrimental to the welfare of the people who quietly suffer the consequences of growing environmental problems. He emphasised that his ministry of maritime affairs is very conscious of the pollution issue and is very active in resolving them. He added that the ministry of maritime affairs is very focused towards environmental issues and that KPT and Port Qasim are fully aware of the realities of the current reality and the costs of cleaning.
Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman praised the commitment of all participants and said that she was also glad to see them accepting the ownership and commitment of stakeholders. She referred to the current rain catastrophe and pointed out that this all was connected global warming. She mentioned that it is not possible to stop the process of climate change but attempts could be made to adapt to the impending change by devising appropriate methods. She insisted that Pakistan is certainly not contributing to global warming but is made to face the brunt of it.
In this context, KPT chairman S.M. Tariq Huda said the port connects Pakistan’s Northern provinces along with providing access to the region. He said that the port is a virtual lifeline to the national economy and is playing its part in national economic development. He pointed out that water security is a national security issue that we must neither deny nor delay solving. He however conceded that the current problems faced in this respect do not have a quick fix and would take time and major effort to come to grips.
The representative of Pakistan Navy Rear Admiral Javed Iqbal explained that the navy is the principal stakeholder in this issue and is directly placed to deal with it. He said that when harbour water gets polluted there is degradation of all sources connected with it causing widespread damage to the environment that ultimately affects the human life. The abundance of plastics and polythene bags damage machines which costs the tax payers and national security.
Other participants pointed out that looking at fishing communities along the coasts of Balochistan and Sindh one can see destruction of livelihoods due to pollution and the rise in sea levels. They added that once Lyari River was a recreational resort flowing some 17-km-long but is now a horror to watch and is degraded across the entire area it flows along. They mentioned that Lyari River is full of plastic and untreated waste and its backflow comes into Chinna Creek where the fishermen say there is no longer any fish. In addition, they pointed out that the mangroves are also degrading and the communities there are living below the poverty line.
All stakeholders aired their concerns regarding the environment and emphasised wider participation to resolve the problem. The other participants included representative of Engro Foundation, Vice President of the Coca-Cola Company, representatives from Sindh Solid Waste Management Board, WWF-Pakistan, IUCN, Unilever Pakistan and ICI Pakistan. They emphasised that private sector institutions tackle polluted conditions in countless rivers spread over the world and their efforts should become an example for all others. They however pointed out that unwavering commitment and consistent partnership is the name of the game without which it was not possible to sort problems out. TW