The Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) launched a drive to teach both the general public people and Karachi Port Trust (KPT) officials about the importance of collecting garbage from seawater.
SEPA officers and staff conducted the drive along ten nautical miles of seawater between Baba and Gaba jetties in Kemari.
More than ten tonnes of garbage was picked up and loaded into solid waste management vehicles parked on the shore. The waste would ultimately be disposed at a landfill site.
Sindh Chief Minister's Advisor on Law, Environment, Climate Change, and Coastal Development Barrister Murtaza Wahab was present as was provincial environment secretary Muhammad Aslam Ghauri.
Also in attendance was SEPA Director-General Naeem Ahmed Mughal and other senior officials. Talking to the media, Barrister Murtaza Wahab said the officials decided to mark World Environment Day by taking steps on the ground to improve the environment rather than giving speeches in airconditioned hotels.
"Going to the field to deliver something practical requires a little hard work," he quipped. He said the purpose of collecting garbage from flowing seawater and taking it to the landfill site was not only to sensitise people, but also to make the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) realise its primary responsibility of preventing pollution.
He said oil spills from ships all over the world have spread a carpet on the surface of the water.
"This must be visible to the KPT administration. It should ensure that all ships and powered boats must be made to comply with environmental standards." He pointed out that if SEPA takes steps to prevent pollution in the sea, it is said that the water falls under the jurisdiction of the federal government and not bound by provincial environmental law.
He urged people who come to Kemari for recreational and commercial purposes to protect their sea and not litter. "Doing so spreads marine pollution and prevents fish from entering the polluted area. This hurts the fishermen's income," the advisor said. He further said KPT should emerge from its land disputes and play a role in protecting the sea. He offered SEPA's as the agency understood that the sea belonged to all and protecting was a collective responsibility.
Replying to a question, Wahab said the Solid Waste Management Board used to collect garbage from five districts of Karachi, but now its scope is in all seven districts, including densely populated one such as Central and Korangi.
Asked polythene bags, he said the Sindh Government was initially very strict on enforcing the ban which led to the introduction of biodegradable plastic bags in the market. "However, harmful plastic bags remained available in small shops and stalls because the public did not cooperate as it should have. Now the situation is returning to normal, but there would be strict implementation of the ban once again."
The advisor said SEPA had installed treatment plants in many industries. "Besides, the Sindh chief minister has allocated Rs500 million to clean the drains of Karachi, an installment of which has also been released.