Karachi: Audience of a programmer held to mark World Environment Day have been informed that Sindh’s own environmental watchdog lacks field offices in districts hampering its ability to monitor and prevent instances of spreading pollution and other causes of environmental damage.
Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) and National Forum for Environment and Health (NFEH) came together the other day to mark World Environment Day being celebrated every year on 05 June. This year’s theme of global environment day focuses upon fight against illegal trade in wildlife.
Waqar Hussain Phulpoto, director (Technical) at Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), said that SEPA on one side lacked field offices in districts while on the other hand the watchdog didn’t have more than a dozen senior officials despite that the province had facing dozens of environmental issues. He said that neither environmental tribunal in the province had been discharging its obligations effectively owing to which people causing damage to environment and spread of pollution were not made to face the law of the land and be fined for their unscrupulous actions.
However, he said that apart from shortcomings of the SEPA, Sindh had taken lead among other provinces in adopting its own law and framing under this law its own set of rules and regulations for protection of environment.
The SEPA official said the main issue of the province was that environmental conservation didn’t get due consideration in advancement of the cause of urban planning and development. He said that recent heat wave in the city, which had caused human causalities had a direct link with environmental degradation as nobody is willing to plant more trees as unfortunately drive is on unchecked to chop off trees.
He said that corporate sector should discharge its obligations regarding conservation of environment and to do development and progress in areas of civic advancement without causing damage to environment.
Ali Dehlavi, a project manager at World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan, said that apart from highlighting and discussing risk areas, various success stories regarding prevention of environmental pollution and reversing the trend of damage to environment, should also be promoted and shared among concerned public.
Mr. Dehlavi, said that one such success story pertained to WWF’s project titled “Building capacity on climate change adaptation in coastal areas of Pakistan”. He said that under the project, the small-scale acquaculture i.e. mud crab fattening ponds were established for fishermen of Kharo Chann and Keti Bandar in coastal areas of Sindh.
He said the CCAP project had attempted to provide alternative income generation opportunities to poor fishermen to reverse a trend in depleting fish resources owing to over-fishing and destructive fishing practices coupled with climate change.
He said that WWF-Pakistan had a successful experience of implementing ecosystem based adaption interventions which had proved beneficial for communities in terms of earning additional income with low cost management.
The WWF official said that such pro-environment measures should be introduced for preventing flooding caused due to outburst of Glacial lakes in the upcountry.
Dr Zubair Mirza, a senior orthopedic surgeon, said that tree plantation campaigns alone could not reverse the trend of damage to physical environment as sources of pollution spreading should also be detected and stopped from further doing damage to environment by polluting vital resources in any society especially for human consumption.
He said that environmental degradation not only caused to spread respiratory illnesses in the society but someone living in an area having pollution-free environment would have 45 per cent lesser chances of heart attack for the second time for a person who already had suffered any heart trouble.
Naeem Qureshi, NFEH President, said that his forum had led and participated a number of tree plantation drives in the city along with a number of concerned civil society and corporate organizations as under such campaigns , some 3,28,000 tree saplings had been planted in the city over sometime. He said that tree plantation campaigns had been conducted without funding, financial support, or grant of the government.
He said the NFEH had planned to launch another round of similar tree plantation drive in Karachi with advent of upcoming monsoon season for which cooperation would be sought from a number of concerned organizations.
Shahbaz Islam and Amir Mumtaz, senior officials of SSGC, also spoke on the occasion to shed light on measures and steps adopted by his state-run organization to prevent the spread of environmental degradation in the country. Also on the occasion, students of Dawoodi Bohra Community’s and Civial Aviation Authority’s schools presented tableaus and skits to highlight that Plant Earth could not bear any more damage to its environment causing mass scale human sufferings.