Environmental activists have demanded the Sindh government declare the mangrove forests on Buddu and Bundal islands protected to prevent an ecological disaster.
Petitioners Yasir Hussain, Ahmad Shabbar and their lawyer, Jibran Nasir, pointed out that both the islands were not listed as protected islands by the provincial government.
Shabbar said that the mangrove forests of the Indus Delta were crucial to saving Karachi, Thatta, Sajawal and Badin from seawater intrusion. "These mangroves are necessary for Karachi, in particular, given the recent heatwave phenomenon and the city's susceptibility to tsunamis and cyclones," he added.
"The mangroves in Indus Delta have international importance as the Indus Delta is covered by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and listed among the WWF's Global 200 list of important ecological sites," he said.
However, the activists regretted that despite its importance, the mangrove cover has depleted tremendously over the past four decades and it is only now that some restoration efforts are being made.
Hussain said that, "It was worrisome for the residents of Karachi when the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government introduced the Pakistan Island Development Authority (PIDA) Ordinance 2020 to start commercial construction on both islands."
He added that, "The federal government in its short-sightedness had claimed that the development would create 125,000 jobs, but it failed to consider that over 200,000 fisher folk would lose their livelihoods as a result."
According to the estimate provided by Shabbar and Hussain, 800,000 people will likely be displaced due to the construction on these islands.
Additionally, they claimed that "in order to build a city on the islands the builders will fill in (what they call as 'reclaim') parts of the sea using sand from other parts of the seabed.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 25th, 2021.
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