KARACHI: An oil pipeline leakage was reported in Defence Housing Authority’s (DHA) Khayaban-i-Sehar on Thursday, near dozens of homes and a college causing groundwater pollution and inconvenience to residents, officials and sources said.

A statement issued by the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) said the rupture of six-inch diameter pipeline of National Refinery Limited (NRL) led to flow of thousands of litres diesel into the adjoining areas.

“A pipeline of NRL leading from Keamari to Korangi Industrial Area at its plant was burst at Khayaban-i-Sehar area of Defence Phase-VI at nearly 4am ... causing groundwater pollution and inconvenience to residents,” it said. “According to a conservative estimate nearly 50 to 60 thousand litre diesel prima facie leaked from the pipeline. On the directives of Advisor to CM Sindh on Law, Environment, Climate Change and Coastal Development Barrister Murtuza Wahab a technical team of Sepa headed by Deputy Director South Abdullah Magsi reached at the place of incident and monitored the situation.”

The fresh episode came as a grim reminder of the March 2012 incident in the same area when the same pipeline had burst, creating difficulties for the residents and the authorities. Though there was no word from officials of the refinery and the regulatory body about the cause behind the incident — twice in eight years — and what measures it had taken to avoid such incidents in the future, the environment watchdog claimed to have ensured repair of the pipeline.

“Sepa has asked the staff of NRL present on the spot that if pipeline was dilapidated then why its timely repair was not made,” said the statement. “Subsequently, flow of diesel was controlled to a great extent. However, NRL staff was directed to take all precautionary measures and fully repair the pipeline to avoid any further dripping. The management of NRL will also be called upon in Sepa office to explain its position on the incident.”

Meanwhile, an industry source said that several pipelines were laid on two different routes in the 1960s and 1970s when the NRL and Pakistan Refinery Limited were built in Korangi. Back then, he said, the parts of the city including DHA from where the pipeline was passing through used to be barren land and the respective refineries acquired the right of way through due process.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2020