KARACHI: Another case of open dumping of coal has surfaced, this time in the area of Juma Goth in Landhi, in violation of the June 2018 Supreme Court orders, according to which coal would only be stored in warehouses.
A recent visit to the site located along the railway tracks in Juma Goth revealed that coal was being dumped in open in the area for the past few months.
“Coal is being brought here from PIBT [Pakistan International Bulk Terminal] and then transported to Punjab through trains,” a worker at the site told Dawn.
At least three companies were involved in transporting coal here, he added.
A thick layer of black dust covered the area with large coal stockpiles as workers handling the consignment without any protective gear unloaded coal from a truck.
The residential area was not very far from the site and was directly exposed to hazardous flying coal dust due to winds.
A trader dealing in livestock at the nearby Cattle Colony confirmed that the coal dumping activity was going on for a few months.
Asked about any complaints registered so far with the local administration, he replied: “How the illiterate poor living in miserable civic conditions could be bothered by dumping of coal?”
It is important to recall here that the apex court had directed the authorities concerned this year that “open coal will not be stored anywhere in Karachi and can only be kept in warehouses”.
The court further ruled that in case of transportation, proper blankets and moisture must be provided to the coal so that dust should not cause pollution. It directed all ships carrying imported coal not to unload it at Karachi Port Trust but at Port Qasim.
Earlier, dumping of coal in the open was spotted in Machhar Colony.
Public health in danger
Highlighting the threats poor coal storage and handling posed to public health, Saquib Ejaz Hussain, an expert on air quality, referred to the Forum of International Respiratory Societies based in Switzerland which had linked all major respiratory diseases to exposure to dust, fumes and air pollution.
“A 2017 United Nations Children’s Fund report found that air pollution is associated with pneumonia, which is responsible for the deaths of 920,000 children under the age of five years ever year.”
Articles 9 and 14 of the Constitution, he pointed out, protected the citizens’ right to life and the right to live in a clean and healthy environment.
“The manner in which coal is being handled, transported and dumped in open all over the city has endangered public health and severely compromised citizens’ rights,” he said.
He called upon the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) to look into coal handling operations at Port Qasim.
“The berths being used for coal handling at PQA also have tanks for palm oil, crude oil and fuel. The establishment of these berths was done in violation [of] the national and provincial environmental laws,” he said.
Upon contact, Waqar Hussain Phulpoto representing Sepa stated that the department had taken notice of coal dumping in Juma Goth and had initially served a notice to the transporter.
“We have inspected the site on Monday and [are] investigating the case. Information gathered from the site has showed that a large part of the coal is going to Sahiwal for a power plant and the rest to a cement factory,” he said, adding that the illegal activity had been continuing for four months.
The department, he pointed out, had taken a number of steps to ensure proper transport and storage of coal in the city and withdrew its no-objection certificate it had accorded to Karachi Port Trust in a case.
“In another case pertaining to coal dumping in Machhar Colony, it conducted legal proceedings against the divisional superintendent Railways and the case is currently with the judicial magistrate,” he said.
Published in Dawn, August 16th, 2018