Mar 22 - 28, 2003





FARIDA ESSA is an Environment Engineer, and doing a lot for improvement of environment conditions in Pakistan. She is running her own environment control firm as the Director of "Arch Vision" in Karachi. She did her Graduation in Civil Engineering and Masters in Environment from NED University of Karachi. Carrying a 22 year experience in the field of environment engineering, she has conducted some extremely important studies sponsored by UNDP and also by Government of Sindh. The significant studies she has completed in the areas of 'Emission reduction and fuel conservation through fleet management' assigned by UNDP/Enercon. Credit also goes to her professional career for conducting studies on "Wastewater treatment plant and Sewerage system for Malir Cantt. Karachi".

Study on "Improving Vehicular Emission Standards in Pakistan" again for UNDP/Enercon. Study on "Environmental Auditing of Javedan Cement Factory, Karachi. Study on Wastewater Treatment Plant, Hamdard Industrial Town, Deh Halakani, Karachi. Besides a number of studies, she also provided her services as senior engineer to M/s. Techno Consult in the prestigious project of Gwadar Deep Sea Port in Balochistan. Besides her professional activities, she also spares her time for social services. She is the General Secretary of Pakistan Coconut & Palm Plantation Society and General Secretary of Consumers Association of Pakistan.

PAGE: Karachi is exposed to worst of pollution especially air pollution because of smoke emitting vehicles, what remedial steps have been taken so far or what measures you would recommend to control this formidable health hazard.



FARIDA: As far as the root cause for pollution has already been identified by extensive studies on this subject, the most irritating pollutant is obviously the smoke emission by the ill-maintained vehicles. As you know Karachi has the largest vehicular population which comes over 70 percent of the total vehicles in Pakistan. In a quick glance over the vehicular traffic in Karachi, one can easily find that vehicles of over 50 years are also being plied on the roads of Karachi. It is because of age that these vehicles are emitting smoke. In a recommendation to the traffic control administration, it was suggested that there should be a phase out programme under which the vehicles having completed their life span should not be allowed in the industrial city where heat is already being generated by a large number of other sources. These outdated vehicles may be allowed to ply in the country side where the smoke can easily be diluted in the open atmosphere. As far as over congested city of Karachi was concern, the air pollution in city is formidably instrumental for spreading skin diseases especially eczema or other scabies besides horrible increase in lung diseases like asthma etc.

Besides outdated vehicles, the ill-maintained vehicles are also allowed because of rampant corruption in the government department responsible for issuing fitness certificates for the vehicles.

There is a need for emission certification standards for vehicle manufacturers for their newly manufactured vehicles.

Manufacturers are required to demonstrate the emission limits of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and particulate matters from each model of their vehicles on dynamometer before marketing their vehicles to receive a certificate of compliance from the government.

PAGE: Currently, the transport sector in Pakistan is rapidly switching over from oil to compressed natural gas. Don't you think this change in fuel system would help overcoming the air pollution problem in Pakistan.

FARIDA: Yes it is true that CNG is human-friendly fuel and helps controlling black smoke emission. Comparatively, black smoke is less harmful as compared to the toxic carried by the gas. Yet another risk carried in conversion over gas is a serious safety problem because the CNG kit can be described as a bomb being carried by the vehicles. There should be a lab test of the cylinders being used for CNG consuming vehicles and also a time limit for using the cylinders. Another important point is that CNG cylinders of sub-standard qualities should be allowed in the larger safety interest of the people. Currently, the CNG kits from Italy were used earlier, but there are a number of Indian CNG kit have also barged into the market because they are much cheaper as compared to Italian kits. Price should not be allowed to compromise at the cost of human life.

PAGE: Pakistan is a major consumer of edible oil and spends a huge amount of import of edible oil specially palm oil and soya bean oil. What have your society done in respect of plantation of palm oil trees especially when the environmental of the coastal areas in Sindh and Balochistan have been identified as ideal for growth of palm oil trees.

FARIDA: You are right. Several experiments have already been done and study reports have also been subjected to the authorities for coastal development in Pakistan. But unfortunately, no serious thought were even given on this subject. All the work done in this respect restricted on papers on alone. It is a fact that over 800 km coastal line in Sindh and Balochistan could take turn around in the edible oil sector. If these coastal areas were allowed to develop a green belt by plantation of palm oil trees, it would be a multi-purpose project. The development of coastal belt has the potential not only to make Pakistan self-sufficient in edible oil but can make us edible oil exporting country. On the other hand, it would help improving the environmental conditions as well.