KARACHI: The deep sea container terminal may contribute considerably to the national exchequer but the megaproject will cause far more damage to the ecology and environment of the Clifton beach.
Concerned about the ecological impact of the under-construction port, a beachgoer has taken the port authorities to SIndh High Court.
Abdul Jabbar Khan, who lives in an apartment complex at the beachfront, claims in his petition that the fundamental rights of the public, particularly Karachiites, will be violated due to the encroachment of the Clifton beach.
Clifton is the only beach accessible to the public in the port city, offering recreational and entertainment opportunities. Located about a kilometre off the seashore in front of Block 1 and 2 of Clifton, the beautiful rocks are a “natural gift for the safety of humans as well as wildlife”.
“The rocks play an important role against earthquakes,” Jabbar Khan claimed. The lives of millions of people in Karachi may be at risk in case a natural disaster strikes because the rocks were being dismantled by heavy dredgers to pave the way for the terminal’s construction.
Referring to a survey conducted by Japanese experts for the deep sea terminal, the petitioner said the study had clearly suggested establishment of such terminal at the western waters. The Karachi Port Trust (KPT) decided, however, to establish the terminal on the eastern front for some reasons best known to the authorities, he said.
Around 15 square kilometres, including the Clifton beach, have been “encroached” to build the port, depriving people of recreational opportunities, the petitioner alleged.
Jabbar Khan appealed to the court to declare the construction of deep sea container terminal as illegal and permanently restrain the authorities from building the port. “Rather, they should be ordered to restore the beach,” he added.
The ministries of ports and shipping, environment and tourism, the KPT, the Karachi commissioner and the South district deputy commissioner have been cited as respondents.
On the last hearing, the judges had asked the respondents to give their version but the court was told that the notices could not be issued since the petitioner had not paid for the process.
The bench, headed by Sindh High Court Chief Justice Mushir Alam, directed the applicant to comply with the objections within seven days. The hearing was then adjourned.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 19th, 2013.