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DAWN - Features; April 09, 2007

April 09, 2007

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No place to visit in the City of Lights?

A friend lamented Karachi does not have enough recreational spots. If citizens stop to count, they will be surprised the City of Lights has a lot to offer its residents and visitors.

If we start from seaside, we have beaches like Manora, Clifton, Hawkesbay (breeding ground for endangered green turtles), French, Russian, Sandspit and the Fountain Jet, besides Karachi and Bin Qasim ports.

Then there is Bagh Ibne Qasim, Beach View Park and the renovated Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine, which make seaside more attractive in the evening.

There are parks like Go Aish Adventure Park, Safari, Funland, Hill Park, Sindbad, Aladin Park, Kite Park (being developed on the pattern of Disney Land), Dream World Resort and many others in every town. There are clubs like Fleet Club, Civil Aviation Club, Karachi Boat Club, Karachi Gymkhana, PAF Yacht Club, The Karachi Club and DHA Marina Club, Zamzama (famous for designer outlets and cafes), the bowling alleys, Masjid-i-Tooba (the world’s largest single-domed mosque), Bundal Island and Bhit Shah.

The mausoleum of the founder of the nation, Zoological Gardens, National Museum, PAF Museum, Maritime Museum besides colonial buildings like Merewether Tower, Frere Hall, Khaliqdeena Hall, Jehangir Kothari Parade, KMC Building, Assembly Building, Sindh High Court, Hindu Gymkhana (now National Academy of Performing Arts) and Empress Market.

To enjoy a movie you have the Universe Cineplex, Capri, Nishat, Prince and other cinemas. If its aesthetics you are looking for visit Mohatta Palace Museum and art galleries like Canvas, Chawkandi, Clifton, Funkar, Kunj, Majmua, Momart, Studio Art and the Arts Council of Pakistan.

Karachi is dotted with many shopping areas attracting large crowds. Saddar, Zainab Market, Gul Plaza, Bahadrabad, Tariq Road, Zamzama, Jamia Cloth Market, Zaibunnissa Street, Park Towers, Hyderi, The Forum, Millennium Mall and Dolmen Mall are the famous ones.

The food outlets are Burnes Road, Boating Basin, Khadda Market, Liaquatabad, Nazimabad and University Road besides the international fast food chains, restaurants as well as four and five star hotels. There are also a number of farm houses in the suburbs.The only pre-requisite is pick a place and plan an outing.

Plant mangrove

Disconcerted by environmental degradation already going on all over and much more being planned, a colleague has this to say:

The sight was such that it could provoke anyone passing by to utter something unpleasant. One could admonish them or hurl a threat of dire consequences or police action at the two men loading their donkey-cart with mangrove twigs, which they said they needed as fodder for their cattle. They had cut the choicest, daintiest and the juiciest of the branches of mangroves from a stretch across the DHA in the Ibrahim Haideri area. In fact, they had been doing so for a long time and had left patches in the bed of small-size plants.

A more serious crime, however, was taking place just a few metres away. Bulldozers, tractors, dumper trucks and other machines were busy removing mangroves and other vegetation and pushing the sea back. They were reclaiming land from the sea next to the Pakistan Refinery. Being in the close proximity of, and probably soon to be connected with, the Defence Housing Authority, the land will not only be used to build factories and educational institutions, as already a college is under construction there, it may also house hotels and other expensive commercial places.

Thanks to the priority assigned to commercialism, despite the clamour by environment activists, both retail and wholesale despoliation of mangroves seems unstoppable.

The utility of mangrove forests cannot be overemphasized. They are a rare source of certain fish species, sanctuary for birds and may help ward off a sea-storm and tsunami.

If the government cares a little for the environment, it can plant mangroves. There is a lot of space for it. And I believe it will not cost too much considering what the government is earning at the cost of the environment.

Power in summer

The weather is heating up. So are the tempers directed against the Karachi Electric Supply Corporation. And soon there will be news reports of riots, with incensed people taking to the streets and taking out their ire on KESC installations and other related and some unrelated buildings.

The KESC’s new management has miserably failed to come up to the expectations of its consumers, who had hoped that a privatized power utility would perform better. Now when the hot season is only in its initial stages, power outages are so frequent and prolonged that people dread what might happen in the months to come.

The KESC, plagued by its internal crises, itself has given no assurance to its consumers that it will perform a little better than what it did last year. The best it can do is to shift the blame for power shortages onto the Water and Power Development Authority or independent power supplying firms.

Those who can afford are already looking for alternatives. They may buy generators, but most such machines are so noisy that they cannot be kept in apartments. Besides, their fuel and maintenance is also a problem, particularly for the low-income people. So, people are increasingly buying the ‘uninterrupted power supply’ (UPS) systems. But with the power failures running into many long hours, theses machines also cannot keep pace with breakdowns. And those who can afford UPSs and generators are also a tiny minority.

Electricity consumers, therefore, just hope that some miracle will happen and they will survive this summer also.

— Karachian



© DAWN Group of Newspapers, 2007