KARACHI: A group of civil society members gathered at the tip of the ‘ganda nala’ at Nehr-i-Khayyam in Boat Basin on Saturday evening to launch a campaign against the sewage, filth and negative impact it was having on children and the environment.

Calls for a campaign to clean up Boat Basin had been doing rounds on electronic media, with the organisers saying: “Boat Basin is filled with sewage thrown into the sea. It has poisoned the environment and the fish we eat, which has given our children hepatitis B and C, cancer and other diseases.”

They stressed that it was imperative to involve families and their children in the campaign “as it is not only for those living in Clifton, but also about teaching our youth to own their country”.

Protesters shouted slogans and held placards inscribed with ‘Dharti sey pyaar karo, ganday naalay saaf karo’, ‘Sirf baatain karna choro, amal par dihan do’ and ‘Zalima Boat Basin saaf kera de’.

“This is a completely non-political event. We are simply trying to highlight the issues of the common man living around Nehr-i-Khayyam and Boat Basin,” said Shaikh Shafqat Ellahi.

Discussing the reason behind the campaign, the organisers explained that Boat Basin and Nehr-i-Khayyam showed a very ugly picture of Clifton and made life difficult for residents.

“Cleanliness of this area has been an issue for the past two decades,” they said, adding that illegal construction at the drain had created further hurdles.

The drain is about 180 feet wide but due to encroachment has shrunk to half of that.

According to Mr Ellahi, for the past one year, he had been working with Seema Ahmed, Nadia Hamayun and a group of architects to convert the nehr into a water park.

“We are thankful to the Supreme Court which took notice of this nehr at the pressing demand of the civil society,” he said, adding that they were hopeful that the illegal encroachments would be removed soon.

Published in Dawn, April 30th, 2018