KARACHI: Air and noise pollution levels across the city, particularly in Korangi district, are worrisome and there is a dire need for urgent intervention to minimise their adverse impact on environment and public health, said participants at a consultative meeting held at the Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI) on Monday.

The meeting on Karachi’s air quality and noise levels was jointly organised by the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) and KATI.

Presiding over the meeting, Sepa director general Naeem Ahmed Mughal gave a presentation, highlighting the current status of the city’s air quality index, particularly the concentration of PM2.5, and noise pollution levels.

He shared figures of a survey conducted last year at 93 different locations of the city prior to the lockdown and said the overall city situation with respect to air quality, particularly PM2.5 concentration and noise levels, depicted a bleak picture.

‘Deteriorating air quality and worsening noise pollution would have direct impact on human health’

Referring to environmental quality standards, he said air quality and noise levels in most areas of the city were beyond permissible limits, which would ultimately have health implications, including respiratory diseases and lung cancer.

“Deteriorating air quality and worsening noise pollution levels would have direct implications on human health, particularly on vulnerable groups,” he said.

The findings of the survey, he said, showed that Korangi was the worst district in terms of deteriorating air quality. “The list also includes some spots in the city, particularly the main traffic corridors, including the one in the area of Liaquatabad 10. The air quality index in these areas was found to be far beyond the permissible limits,” he noted.

The Sepa director general further shared that noise pollution levels in almost all districts were beyond permissible limits except in district South.

Suggesting ways to tackle the problem, KATI president Saleem-uz-Zaman urged Sepa to pursue a policy for importing electrical vehicles as, he said, Pakistan had electricity in surplus.

“This would help reduce air pollution since vehicles are the main contributing factor to air pollution,” he told the audience.

Dr Zafar Fatmi, representing the Aga Khan University, floated the idea of a pollution-free Korangi as a pilot project, which later could be replicated on a mass level in the city. He described the different modalities in that regard.

Environmental consultant Jahangir Asad underscored the need to ascertain the sources of pollution, which required detailed monitoring of air quality and noise levels in the city.

Senior environmentalist Shahid Lutfi shed light on the ambient air quality management and suggested strategies to curb air pollution. He also emphasised the need for redefining Sindh environmental quality standards with respect to different sectors.

“For the betterment of the environment, we need a sustainable mechanism for air pollution management,” he recommended.

Concluding the meeting, Sepa director general spoke of the agency’s commitment to the environment despite having limited human and financial resources.

“The department is trying its utmost to improve air quality and noise pollution levels in the city. It has increased its monitoring activities as well as focusing on mitigation strategies. What, however, we need is cooperation from all stakeholders.”

Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2021

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