KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) was informed on Monday that the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) is running the coal terminal in Shireen Jinnah Colony in violation of the law. The port authority has not obtained a formal approval from the environmental authority in this regard.
The director-general (DG) of the Sindh environment protection agency, Naeem Mughal, revealed this before a bench during the hearing of a petition against the operation of the coal-handling terminal at Shireen Jinnah Colony.
Mughal, who filed his report regarding the operation of the terminal and its impact on the environment, said that the “entire process, from the unloading of the coal to its dumping and transportation to different industrial units, has serious environmental implications.”
The DG referred to the inspection during which it was observed that coal material, which was found on the berth and jetty flowed into the port’s waters during washing or at the time of rainfall, causing marine pollution.
He added that the transportation of coal via heavy vehicles from the terminal to the coal yard, located at a distance of around three to four kilometres, was a major source of air pollution as the open trucks caused the residual coal particles to escape into the air. Mughal apprehended that hundreds of residents would suffer from respiratory diseases due to the environmental pollution.
He said that coal dust was found in the houses located in the densely populated area of Keamari and the adjoining areas of the terminal. Moreover, environmental issues relating to the storage of coal were significantly adverse as a huge quantity of coal was stored at the yard.
Mughal was of the opinion that the location of the coal yard in a densely-populated area had put the residents at high risk. The concentration of coal emissions would have an adverse effect on the health of the workers on the site as well as the general public in the vicinity.
Orders for KPT
A division bench, headed by Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, directed the Karachi Port Trust authorities to put in place various preventive measures to ensure minimum eruption of dust from the terminal. It ordered them to ensure that the premises where the coal was kept, as well as the vehicles transporting the coal, should be completely covered.
A group of the residents of the Shireen Jinnah Colony had taken the port authorities to court over excessive eruption of the dangerous coal dust from its terminal.
They claimed that the coal dust blowing from KPTs terminal posed serious threats to the health of residents of the area. They estimated that on average, five ships carrying 35,000 to 40,000 tons of the coal, berthed every month at the port. About 200,000 tons of the coal is handled at the terminal monthly.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 19th, 2014.