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KARACHI: One major factor that has put Pakistan’s coast under continuous environmental pressure is to have development activities, which included land reclamation and the construction of ports and harbours, without conducting scientific studies to assess their short- and long-term impacts on the coast.

This point was raised by Dr Asif Inam, director general of the National Institute of Oceanography, during his talk organised at Bahria University on Tuesday.

Titled ‘Impact of erosion on Pakistan’s coastal belt and mitigation strategies’, the programme was organised by National Centre for Maritime Policy and Research.

Dr Inam began his talk by mentioning various natural assets Pakistan possessed and said the country’s large coastline had a variety of distinctive features, including deltas, raised terraces and beaches. The part of the Arabian Sea which bordered Pakistan, he pointed out, was full of natural resources which contributed to the national economy.

He also spoke about the sensitive coastal ecology and said that the coast was under continuous environmental pressures due to various man-made activities as well as natural phenomena such as storms, cyclones, monsoon, etc. Explaining this point further, he said that man-made infrastructures, which included harbours and ports and the practice of reclaiming coastal land and disposal of untreated waste into the sea, had made the coast very vulnerable to erosion.

“The seasonal monsoon system that develops due to a differential heating regime is also a major force that has severe bearings on the coast,” he said.

According to him, it’s a common practice globally to manage coastal zones in a scientific manner by conducting hydrodynamic surveys before embarking upon projects that can potentially affect the coast.

“Such scientific studies help curtail the adverse effects of development activities and enhance its socio-economic value. Unfortunately, the situation along our coast is just the opposite which, to an extent, explains continued coastal deterioration and erosion,” he said.

In his concluding remarks, PN Commander Coast Rear Admiral Moazzam Ilyas, the chief guest, said that the situation along country’s coast required attention of the government as well as of private institutions to re-analyse the present mode of coastal management.

He emphasised that the understanding of coastal dynamics, including identification of sediment sources and their movement directions, were critically important for addressing the issue of coastal erosion.

He also suggested a consolidated coastal management plan, with input from all relevant agencies and organisations engaged in activities along the coast, to tackle coastal erosion. The event was attended by serving and retired naval officers, government officials and researchers.

Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2018