KARACHI REELING UNDER ECOLOGICAL DISASTER
DR. S. M. ALAM
July 11 - 17, 2011
Karachi, the largest and the most populous city of Pakistan, presents an interesting and colorful combination of old and new developments. The narrow and the twisting lanes and alleys of the old city are throbbed with life along sides wide metalled roads and elegant modern buildings with offices, big departmental stores and shopping malls. Its market and bazaars offer an endless varieties of decorative items including indigenous handicrafts and carpets of rare deign and beauty.
Karachi's recorded history goes back to the 18th century, when it was a small fishing village known as Kolache-jo-Goth. With the development of its harbor, it gradually grew into a large city and an important centre of trade and industry.
Its selection as the capital of Pakistan in 1947 added to its importance and accelerated its growth and development. Though the seat of government shifted to Islamabad, Karachi still remains the centre of commerce and industry. In the old parameters, there are many places of interest and these are: Wazir Mansion, Quiad-e-Azam's Mausoleum, Bagh-e- Jinnah, National Museum , Empress Market, Saddar, Merewether Tower, Sindh High Court, Clifton Beaches, Hawksbay, Paradise point, old Bazars, markets etc.
Karachi city is the seaport and the main financial center of Pakistan and the capital of the province of Sindh. It has an estimated population of over 16 million, which is growing at a tremendous growth rate. The very phenomenal increase in human population has taken place in Karachi during the recent years due to various opportunities of jobs. Karachi is one of the world's largest cities in terms of population, the 13th largest urban agglomeration and the 4th largest metropolitan area in the world.
It is Pakistan's premier centre of banking, industry, trade and is home to Pakistan's largest corporations, including those involved in textiles, shipping, automotive industry, entertainment, fast food, the arts, fashion, advertising, media, publishing, software development, and medical research.
The city spreads over 3,527 square meters. Karachi has many shopping areas small and big attracting a large crowd of shoppers in the evening. Big shopping malls have also appeared in many areas of the city.
Karachi is the pride of Pakistan in all senses because of its economic values, hospitality of the people and the most intelligent people. Karachi is a classic industrial hub of banking, insurance , public health, information technology, textile, cement, leather, education, plastic, ship building, fertilizers, glass, rubber, marble, gemstones, carpets, tiles, sports goods, livestock, fishery, poultry, milk, embroidery, software, surgical goods, medicines, machinery, automobiles, chemical & paint industries, glass, jewelry, ceramics, woodworks, petroleum products etc. The increasing proportion of investment flowing into these sectors has significantly diversified the industrial structure of the country.
Karachi is threatened with the rise in population. Biosphere pollution by chemicals and heavy metals such as cadmium, nickel, zinc, lead, copper etc. has accelerated dramatically during the last few decades due to mining, smelting, manufacturing, use of agricultural fertilizers, pesticides, municipal wastes, traffic emissions, industrial effluents, and industrial chemicals etc.
Instead of using private cars one must use public transport more often and walk for short distances. There should be a greenbelt constructed in big cities such as Karachi. The trees in the green belt would reduce the amount of fumes in the air and give out clean oxygen. We should use unleaded petrol in our vehicles. It is already available at most petrol stations. Unleaded petrol is more efficient for the car and is less harmful to the environment. Most of the leading car manufacturers should install catalytic converters in their vehicles. Even the car manufacturers don't make their cars much environment friendly and the people are forced to buy these cars.
More fuel is burned as most roads of Karachi are broken and there are a lot of traffic jams which increase the journey time and emit harmful pollutants such as sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide. The government and the authorities take little concern about these industries. As a result of this, the sky of Karachi is covered with thick smog. This may lead to many respiratory diseases and may also be harmful to the animals living in such places.
The industrial waste should be first filtered and then disposed properly into sea or river. Instead of using clean water, we can use the filtered industrial water for flushing toilets, watering the plants and washing the cars. The government should ask the local citizens for proper beach cleaning once in a year. Besides, it should also impose penalties on those people who throw their waste into the sea or river. There must be a regular cleaning of all the canals and channels. Almost the whole of city's sewerage is dumped into rivers and the sea. As a result of this Karachi is facing many problems.
The oil spill incident has increased the amount of pollution in the sea as well as has caused pollutions on the beaches. It is said that the oil spill disaster from Tasman Spirit killed hundreds and thousands of fishes as well as destroyed much of the marine life. It has also caused eye infections and respiratory problems to those living near the sea. Further leakages in pipelines have polluted the clean water.
Most of the home waste and other kinds of wastage is usually dumped on empty plots next to the houses and is then burned which may be harmful to the people living in the area. Only less than five per cent of the waste is recycled and most of it is disposed directly on the ground. There are only a few garbage cans along the roads so people living far away have to dispose off their waste somewhere else. This attracts flies, which then spread diseases.
Apart from this, the rubbish thrown would disintegrate in a 1000 years from now. Hence, an increase in land pollution may in turn slowly destroy our natural environment which is already at risk. Coastal areas of Karachi are continuously polluted with highly poisonous industrial waste and untreated municipal sewage entering the sea.
Waste is scavenged and burnt in the populated areas exposing the residents to health hazards, adding to the already severe problem of air pollution and creating opportunities for pests to breed.
A majority of these patients live in the areas where solid waste is burnt.