Published On: Thu, Sep 25th, 2014

Karachi’s lungs are shrinking

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Salahuddin Abbasi
KARACHI, SINDH: The greedy industrialists have started using mangrove wood to ignite the chimneys of their factories since Karachi has started facing acute shortage of natural gas and electricity, posing serious threat not only to the general ecology but also to the country’s biggest city and commercial of Karachi.

One of the factory members, Riaz, in Korangi accepted that they have to use these woods in order to run their factory and perform different tasks.

“We have to continue our factories otherwise, we will get lot of losses and when there is no electricity or even natural gas, what else we can do, we switched to wood as source of fuel, but we don’t know its mangrove wood or something,” said Muhammad Riaz, a factory owner in Korangi industrial area.

Mangroves are having a huge importance, as they are known as lungs for the city as they generate oxygen and also known as coastal siphon, as the protect the city from tropical cyclones and also if any tsunami hits the city. Besides that these coastal forests are also important for many types of fish species, as the use these forests as their egg laying sites and also many birds including falcons use these forests as their nesting sites.

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The important coastal forests of mangroves along the Sindh coastal, especially along Karachi coast are shrinking as many people started cutting these protected forests to use the land for housing schemes, to cope with increasing population.

During the survey residential told that the shortage of electricity and gas is affecting the factories negatively especially in the Korangi industrial area, the owners have started using mangroves and timber mafia have started cutting off the mangroves trees which is not a good sign as mangroves provide protection against cyclones, helps in mud bank fixation and in building and maintaining the soil.

Mangrove trees at the shore are very important for the Indus delta and they are being destroyed due to marine pollution and also by dumping the industrial as well as domestic waste in the sea.

The land mafia on the coasts is also cutting down the trees; they not only sell the woods after cutting the trees but also use them for their homes decor which is indirectly destroying the timber forests.

“The fishermen are affected the most due to the cutting of timber and mangroves trees,” said Allah Bachayo, resident of Ibrahim Haidry, the historical fishermen settlement of Karachi located just on the edges of Arabian Sea. He said that now they have to go deep inside the sea to capture the fishes instead of the shore. As a result the fishermen sometimes cross the border and then are being captured by the Indian army, of about 66 fishermen are still captive in Indian jails.

International Union for Conservation of Nature, Pakistan ( IUCN) ,Program Director, Tahir Qureshi told that the land mafia has not only cut down the historical timber but also the trees of timber present in Ireland for the use in factories.

Experts say that it will be a huge loss if we cut down the trees of timber and use that space for land. They further said that the areas like Defence Phase 7 and 8, Korangi creek, etc are being used as land by cutting down the trees and forests.

The Sindh Forest Department Project Director Agha Tahir Hussain said that Pakistan is earning $75,000 per hector from timber forests. It not only has environmental value but equally economical importance as well. They not only provide us with oxygen but also play an important role in saving the country from floods.

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