Karachi has ‘no mechanism to monitor air quality’

Karachi has ‘no mechanism to monitor air quality’.
Participants of a dialogue were informed that Karachi for the last several years has lacked a proper mechanism to monitor its air quality at such a time when harmful industrial and vehicular emissions, the burning of municipal waste, the cutting of trees frequently and rapid commercialisation had irreversibly damaged the city’s environment.
The dialogue titled “Air quality & Climate change: A case of Karachi” was jointly organised recently by the National Forum for Environment and Health and EMC Pakistan.
The participants of the event were informed that the city lacked a mechanism to lawfully stop use of vehicles which had become old and were constantly emitting pollutants.
They were also told that air quality monitoring stations of the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency had not been in use for the last six to seven years, while one such programme of Suparco to monitor the levels of air and water pollution had been abandoned some 10 years back.
The audience were informed that though Sindh had adopted its own environmental quality standards after passing the provincial environmental protection law in 2014, it had no binding limitations for industries to reduce harmful emissions of hazardous gasses by them.
He said that tree-cutting had continued unabated in the city over the last several years to give way to rapid urbanisation so much so that vegetation cover of the city had decreased from two percent from seven percent back in 2008.
He said that the coal yard of the Karachi Port Trust had been functioning without any check though activities related to transportation, handling and storage of coal had virtually ruined the environment of the adjoining areas, causing serious health risks for their residents, labourers and visitors.
Farzana Altaf, director-general of the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (PEPA), said that use of non-degradable plastic bags in Islamabad capital territory had been controlled by up to 70 percent and the provincial governments should also follow suit and adopt such measures to prevent further harm to the environment.
In his concluding remarks, Sindh Transport Minister Nasir Hussain Shah said that the government was fully committed to reviving the proposed system of the Karachi Circular Railway, and for this cause, encroachments were being removed, and at the same time two separate sections of Bus Rapid Transit Service were being built in the city.

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