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ISLAMABAD, Nov 17: The government is planning to undertake a Rs10 million project for Balochistan to monitor pollution in coastal waters resulting from industrial and port development, by strengthening the Oceanographic Research Sub-Station at Gwadar, an official source told Dawn.

In addition to pollution study, the project would also help in measuring the rise of the sea level at sites essential for operational engineering design activities, the source said.

The project is designed to study temperature /salinity distribution, characteristics and movements of water masses for submarine operations for defence purposes and identifying marine organisms that create sounds in clusters affecting underwater detection.

It will also help in research seabed conditions, tides and currents required to plan laying of pipe lines and submarines cables in the sea or tidal zones. Study and survey of coastal tectonics (structural deformations within earth) and inner shelf area of Balochistan would also be carried out to identify minerals and identification of designs for necessary installations at the coastal along Balochistan.

He said the project would provide essential data and information to assist the government and national agencies in the development of coastal areas' exploration, conservation of marine resources, coastal protection of marine resources and for problem solving research such as marine environmental problems and management of coastal water resources.

Such research in Gwadar, the source said, would boost exploration, management, conservation and exploitation of marine resources, thus contributing a lot towards the overall economy of the country.

Earlier the same project was discussed in a departmental development working party (DDWP) meeting on March 2004, but was deferred with a direction to the department concerned to re-submit it by conducting a survey on the availability of requisite technical manpower from the Gwadar area.

After completion, the project would help a lot in government's drive to reduce poverty in the coastal areas through deep sea fishing and export of fish. It will help in identifying the locations of deposits like manganese nodules for deep sea mining, location of potential sites for drilling offshore wells for oil and gas and extraction of chemicals from marine fauna and flora.

Ecological and environmental studies are part of the project to enable profitable enterprises in aqua culture and shrimp farming, thus generating employment opportunities for coastal communities, he said.

It would also help in collecting basic information about the marine oriented industry like calcium from sea shells and extraction of chemical and drugs from the sea weeds.

Development of numerical models for determining the harbour works and protective work for future plans and improvements in the existing arrangement to curtail, dependence on foreign expertise and conserve foreign exchange as well as study time involved in such projects are part of the scheme.

Collection of basic information for production of energy from sea, desalination of sea water, erosion and siltation problems in significant areas and its likely solutions were also included in the project, he said.

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