There is a need to provide more
recreational facilities at the beaches to tourists to minimize the risk of life
By AMANULLAH BASHAR
August 23 - 29, 1999
Karachi's golden sand beaches stretched over miles and miles in the
outskirts of the city could have been the most outstanding feature both for tourism as
well as the economic development of the country.
Instead of supporting the economy like other countries where beaches
are a great source of income generation and social resorts in our case they have become a
death trap for innocent visitors due to lack of facilities.
Recently 23 people lost their lives in 24 hours during Independence Day
holidays. The strong current swept away 17 picnickers at Hawks Bay, Paradise Point and
Sandspit in Karachi while rest were drowned at Kenjhar Lake and other coastal areas of
Sindh. Absence of other recreational facilities and security measures at beaches are major
reasons of such uncalled for eventualities.
The drowning of such a large number of people at Karachi beaches during
Independence Day holidays was not an exceptional happening. Visiting the seaside naturally
is a great source of excitement for the majority coming from the upcountry, since they are
not used to swim against the strong current of the sea, they generally become the victims,
hence, the casualties due to drowning have become a common incident. Situation demands for
proper security arrangements at our beaches to save the precious lives of our people.
Although, life guards have been posted by Edhi Trust as well as Navy divers are also there
but they do not act as "Bay Watchers" they come to rescue when they are called
for the help. Since the constant watch at the beaches would involve huge funds, netting
barriers can be erected with in 50-100 yards of the shore as the safety measures. Edhi
Trust is trying to acquire a helicopter which would be flying over the beach to act as a
bay watcher. The aerial watch through helicopter is expected to provide a great help in
rescuing people from the death trap.
Apart from these arrangements, rapid development of our precious
beaches would also change the entire complexion. At present due to absence of other
attractions, the visitors have no choice but to go for swimming. Modernized development of
the beaches would certainly reduce number of accidents by diverting the attention of the
The security arrangements by Pakistan Navy at the French Beach, Located
between Hawks Bay and Sandspit is a good example. Although, there is not much commercial
development at French Beach but the number of casualties is much less as compared to other
beaches. Managed by Pakistan Navy, the French Beach is exclusively meant for those who
have prior permission for entry. The beach is surrounded by a boundary wall restricting
the unauthorized entries. Parts of the beach are rocky and the water is clear making it
good for snorkeling and skin-diving.
Originally, French Beach was a small fishing village known to the
locals as Haji Abdullah Goth which was later developed into an attractive beach for the
The gross negligence of a number of development authorities and
organizations has not only marred the natural beauty of these beaches but is the criminal
wastage of the enormous potentials of economic development of these resorts.
There was a time when these beaches at Hawks Bay, Sandspit and Paradise
Point, were the centre point of attraction for the tourists and the foreigners. The number
of foreign visitors has however gradually reduced almost to nil due to various factors
including law and order situation, absence of facilities, the ill-mannered and corrupt
The sorry state of affairs at our beaches is reflected in the fact that
the prime land alongside Hawks Bay, Sandspit and Paradise Point, the most frequently
visited public resorts, have been allotted to the individuals or organizations for private
huts. The general public has not been taken care of in the scheme of things. Despite
enormous commercial potentials at these public resorts, neither any motel nor hotel
facility has been provided either by the private sector or by the public sector
organizations. Private sector investors are always willing to bring prestigious commercial
projects at the sea side but due to complexity of the rules involving, NOCs at the federal
and provincial government levels and utility organizations keep the investors away.
Citing the example of "Allahdin Water Park" an official of
Sindh Tourism said that this project is being run by private sector and pulling huge crowd
every day. The land alongside the beach could have been given to multi-nationals and other
private sector organizations for development of different commercially viable projects.
Our coastal areas could not developed due to existence of too many authorities like KDA,
LDA, MDA and DHSA, Beach Development Authority, Coastal Area Development Authority etc.
Too many cooks always spoil the broth, he remarked. There should be one window facility if
we really want to rapidly develop our beaches by attracting private foreign and local
Currently, people have to bribe chowkidars of private huts to take
shelter in verandahs outside the private huts. Even drinking water facility is not
available for the general public.
Pakistan Tourism and Development Corporation (PTDC), which is supposed
to promote tourism and attract tourists through highlighting the attractive resorts in the
country, does not have even proper brochures about beaches which are the most outstanding
features not only of Karachi but of Pakistan except a few sketchy lines.
The PTDC had acquired 172 acres of land at Gaddani beach in 1975 to
develop recreational facilities including motels, rest houses and other developments. The
project was inaugurated by the then minister for tourism. Pictures and reports about the
inauguration ceremony were appeared in the Press next morning. The project on which a few
million rupees were spent, is lying abandoned since then for want of money and interest.
Another similar project of the PTDC for which the government had provided the land at
Hawks Bay also died in the identical manner.
The Sindh Tourism Development Corporation (STDC) was also not an
exception. They are also facing acute financial crisis which has killed the spirit to
work. Depressed with the ongoing situation, a frustrated official at STDC told this scribe
that "We have nothing to tell the tourists but the high-handedness of our police
which is more than enough to scare them away." He said huge funds were collected by
the previous government from different organizations including KPT in the name of
environment development and a green belt along the coastal area but even a single tree is
not visible at the beaches.