KARACHI: A documentary titled The City by the Sea: The Future of Karachi’s Coastline was aired to an engrossed audience which charted the evolution of the coastal development of Karachi.
It showed big money and big interest work together to introduce mega projects that are eroding the coastline, causing gentrification and environmental depletion at a fast pace.
Director Mahera Omar made the documentary for Shehri CBE and tracked the current development projects which are having an adverse effect on the city’s residents and the environment. Mangroves, migratory birds, fish and local residents are all a victim of this onslaught
The documentary highlighted how industrial and domestic waste in the city was being released untreated into the sea, harming fishing communities and coastal wetlands. Despite the loss of environment and livelihoods, the authorities concerned turn a blind eye to such pertinent issues.
Is the sea being given the respect it deserves, the documentary questioned.
Amber Alibhai from Shehri-Citizens for a Better Environment shared how a few who had participated in the documentary had unfortunately lost their lives in their battle against land mafias; one of the prominent persons killed was Parween Rehman of the Orangi Pilot Project.
“Though the documentary was made many years ago, it is still very pertinent today as a similar onslaught is ongoing in the name of development. Take the example of Mai Kolachi where 130 acres of backwaters are being reclaimed for a cooperative housing society which the Sindh government should immediately take notice of.”
Ahmer Ali Rizvi, a bird watcher and wild life enthusiast, shared that taking interest and showing concern in the environmental effect of development in the city was a responsibility of each and every citizen.
“For the many years I have gone to explore wildlife in Pakistan and internationally, and till about 15 years ago we did not have to travel very far from the city to see and experience this fascinating wildlife and there were so many different types of species one could watch and appreciate. However, only a small percentage of those species now visit due to rapid development which has robbed them of their habitat,” he said.
Javed Mahar also reiterated that the extinction of wildlife due to loss of habitat is going to wreak havoc for mankind. Each and every organism has a purpose which is to maintain the balance for optimal life to thrive; if they become extinct then in turn human life is also threatened.
Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2019