KARACHI, June 5: Like elsewhere in the world, the World Environment Day was observed in the city with a pledge to do away with all those practices harming our environment.

Various NGOs, government departments and universities in the city organised walks, seminars and other activities on Tuesday.

The United Nations started observing the World Environment Day in 1972. The theme of the day for 2007: “Melting ice- a hot topic?” focuses on the effects that climate change is having on polar ecosystem and communities, and ensuing consequences around the world.

The Sindh Environment Department held a seminar to mark the day. Speaking as chief guest, Sindh Environment Minister Dr Sagheer Ahmad said polluters, including defaulting industries and transporters would not remain unpunished for long.

The minister said that smoke-emitting vehicles and effluent discharging industries were causing considerable damage to human life, environment and marine ecology.

Polluters must learn to discipline themselves voluntarily, otherwise the environment department and its protection agency had got all the means and strength to take action against them under relevant rules, he added, saying that off course there was a limit for deferring stern actions.

Keeping in view the consequence of any immediate and direct action on the livelihoods of industrialists, his department had been facilitating them, but now it was the turn of the industrialists to learn not to ignore the human aspects in their run for financial benefits, the minister remarked.

He said that the government was fully aware of concerns of people and environmental hazards and felt that still there was a lot to do as far as human health and environmental protection issues were concerned and that was why number of staff and capacity of the environment department and Sindh Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) were been enhanced to address the situation befittingly.

However, he pointed out that environmental issues could not be addressed only by the government and it were the attitudes and practices of individuals that contributed significantly towards healthy environment.

Dr Samiuzzaman, a member of the Environment Tribunal, explaining the working of the tribunal said that both the provincial environment agency and citizens could file cases against those harming the environment and putting human life at risk.

So far, the tribunal had not received any case or complaints, but he had been informed that the Sepa would soon be forwarding some cases to the tribunal for proceedings under the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act provisions, he added.

Among others, Dr Badar Ghauri of Suparco made a presentation on ambient air quality in Karachi, Gulzar Feroze of Combined Effluent Treatment Plan project discussed the industrial pollution and its effects on environment, Masood Alam of the CDGK described the solid waste management system in the city, Dr Niaz Ahmed Rizvi of the National Institute of Oceanography highlighted marine pollution and environmental issues along Pakistan coast, DG SEPA, Abdul Malik Ghauri, and Naim Mughal deliberated on the significance of WED and obligation of society in regard to environmental hazard, pollution and sustainable development.

CITY NAZIM: The city government’s tree plantation drive is among one of the many measures it has taken to check the menace of environmental pollution in the city.

This was stated by City Nazim Syed Mustafa Kamal while talking to newsmen after planting a sapling here on Tuesday to mark the World Environment Day.

The nazim said that the city government was using all possible resources to eliminate pollution in the metropolis and strategies in this regard were being worked out.

He said that the city government would plant three trees in place of a single tree being chopped down due to the ongoing development activities.

The nazim said that the development of Bagh Ibn-i-Qasim and Beach Park in Clifton was a part of city government’s plan to make the city green.

Referring to the city government’s plan to induct 8,000 environment friendly CNG buses in the city’s transport fleet, he said that the first batch of the buses would start plying in the city’s arteries in the current month.

Mr Kamal said that the city government would launch a mega project at an estimated cost of Rs8 billion to install a plant to treat sewage before it flows into the sea. The Central Development Working Party (CDWP) had already given approval of the project, he informed.

KU WORKSHOP: We all our equally responsible for our environment, therefore work together to save it from further deterioration.

The use of mechanical equipment discharging harmful gases into the atmosphere, such as vehicles, air-conditioners and refrigerators, has increased drastically over time. As we have no other place to live except for this very planet, we must try to at least make up as much as we can to make it up for the damage that we do to the environment.

This was stated by the vice-chancellor of the University of Karachi, Dr Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui, while presiding over the inaugural session of a two-day workshop ‘Biosafety, Health and Environment: a New Frontier”, organised by the Institute of Environmental Studies (IES),KU in collaboration with Higher Education Commission. A large number of students from across the country attended the workshop organised to mark the World Environment Day.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Pirzada said that it was imperative to think and come up with the means through which the harm done could be compensated.

He said that with each passing day an imbalance in the environment had been created by humans that gave way to the climatic disorder.

Dr Moazzam Ali Khan highlighted the achievements of the IES. He said that the purpose of the workshop was to create awareness on the significance of bio-safety in today’s world.

He said that the department had come up with various low-cost projects for water treatment and waste management.

Dr Ali, however, maintained that these projects would not succeed without the government support and encouragement.

KU pro-vice-chancellor Prof Dr Akhlaq Ahmed and MAH Qadri Biological Research Centre Director Prof Dr Shakeel Ahmed Khan also spoke. At the end of the inaugural programme shields were presented to the event’s organisers.

PCSIR: Almost 800 sq-km of the forest area is being reduced annually owing to the so-called development. Due to this 26,000 sq-km of the forest area had reduced to not more than 19,000 sq-km during 1980 and 1990. However, the melting of the glaciers is not much of a problem for Pakistan as the Western Himalayas has not yet been affected by it.

This was stated by the former head of the PCSIR, Karachi, Dr Mirza Arshad Beg during his lecture delivered on the occasion World Environment Day, at Lincoln Corner. Students of various institutions were invited to attend the lecture.

He said that the alarming rate of deforestation needed to be taken care of. He said forest area of 800 sq-km was being lost annually to the so-called development.

Dr Beg said that according to temperature data of various cities collected during the last few years, the heat zone in Pakistan was expanding.

“The focus of the heat zone has extended all around Nokundi-Sibbi-Jacobabad axis to Mianwali and Gilgit in the northern areas of Pakistan” he said.

Dr Beg also mentioned that the raise in temperature in major cities had also been noted. He also pointed out that the water tables were reducing at a rate of one metre a year. “Depletion of groundwater resources and reduction in flow of freshwater into the estuarine areas has increased the aridity of Indus delta besides its shrinkage”, he revealed.

WWF: The country’s leading conservation organisation, World Wildlife Fund (WWF-Pakistan), organised a number of activities at its regional as well as project offices. The WWF-Pakistan organised a beach cleaning activities at the turtle nesting sites of Sandspit and Hawkesbay, said a statement issued here.

It said that the beach cleaning activity was followed by an awareness programme at the organisation's Wetland Centre situated in the midst of the mangrove forest in the area.

The WWF-Pakistan, under its Indus for All Programme's Communication and Awareness component, also organised a seminar in collaboration with a local NGO, to raise awareness of global warming and climate change in the local context.

The seminar followed by an interactive theatre focussing environmental issues.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Ghulam Akbar, director, Indus for All Programme, highlighted the importance of the Indus Eco-region and laid emphasis on conserving ecosystems in the context of poverty-environment linkages.

IUCN: Speakers at a forum organised by the IUCN said that coherent and holistic policies were required to tackle the climate change issue. They lauded the role of media in creating awareness on environmental issues.

They said that environment issue might be integrated into curriculum as a subject to educate future generations about the future challenges. The global vice-president of the IUCN, Javed Jabbar said that industrial economy had promoted consumption economy, which had crucial implications for the climate change.

He said that it is encouraging to note that first time in the history, Security Council of United Nations has agreed to put the subject of climate change on its agenda. The G8 countries, which are the biggest sources of green house gas emissions, have acknowledged that climate change is a major political security issue.

IUCN country representative Sohail Malik, Shamsul Haq Memon, former Secretary Environment, Dr Rehana Siddiqui of the Aga Khan University, G. R Keerio of Sindh Coastal Development Authority, Dr Shoukat Hayat of National Institute of Oceanography, Mohammad Saleem Jalbani of Sindh Planning and Development Department, G Rasool Channa of Sindh Wildlife Department, Shaikh Rizwan Abdullah of Shehri, Ghazala Aftab, Shabina Faraz, Rehana Batool, Ahmad Saeed, Nasir Ali Panhwar, Zohra Rehmat Alia and others also spoke.