KARACHI: The Senate Committee on Climate Change on Thursday expressed its serious concern over mangroves depletion in Sindh’s coastal areas observing that ‘land mafia’ was destroying the province’s natural resources.
The committee urged the Sindh government to “weed out” the mafia that was fast converting mangroves forests into housing societies.
The committee shared its findings with the media at Qasr-i-Naz after its members visited Karachi’s coastal areas in the last phase of their visit to the metropolis. Describing the situation of the coastal belt as “depressing”, they also pointed towards the deteriorating state of the marine environment.
“Continuous unlawful land-grabbing within the mangroves forest areas in the coastal belt of Sindh has exacerbated the climate-vulnerability of the country’s largest city, which has exposed the people and their livelihoods to the risks of storm surges, cyclones and sea intrusion,” the Senate committee’s chairman, Mir Muhammad Yousaf Badini, told reporters.
He said the committee’s members had visited the coastal areas to take stock of the current state of pollution, deforestation and level of degradation of coastal and marine ecosystems, adding that they were shocked to note that 500 million gallons of untreated water was released into the sea every day.
“These mangroves forests provide a strong natural defence against the exacerbating climate change-induced disasters in the shape of sea storms, cyclones, sea intrusion and erosion in coastal areas.
Besides, they provide nutrient-rich habitats for marine fisheries,” Mr Badini said.
“The provincial forest, Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) and other 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,” he urged.
Mr Badini also vowed to work with the governments of Sindh and Balochistan to devise a mechanism and initiate policy measures for protecting coastal and marine ecosystems and further boost the mangroves forest cover to mitigate the vulnerability of coastal communities and their livelihoods to climate change risks.
A committee member, Nuzhat Sadiq, called for setting up treatment plants in industrial zones and on sewage drains from where industrial effluents and domestic sewage made their way into the sea.
“Complacency on this score by the relevant Sindh government authorities is no option and the provincial government should realise its role in this regard to show political leadership and interest in protecting the marine and coastal ecology from further devastation,” she said. Other senators and members of the committee who visited the coastal areas included Ahmed Hassan, Nighat Mirza, Gul Bushra, Saleem Zia, Sitara Ayaz and Samina Abid.
Courtesy : Dawn News