THE Economist Intelligence Unit research project, titled Asian Green City Index, done in 2011 assessed the environmental performance of 22 Asian cities, including Karachi.

The project’s aim was to provide a tool to help Asian cities learn from each other to better address their environmental problems.

The assessment was based on how well a city performed based on eight criteria.

These were: water, sanitation, air quality, environmental governance, waste, transport, energy and carbon dioxide emissions, and land use and buildings.

Under each criterion, various indicators that assess environmental performance were evaluated.

Under the category of water, the indicators assessed were: water consumption per capita, water system leakages, water quality policy and water sustainability policy.

For sanitation, the indicators assessed were share of population with access to sanitation, share of wastewater treated and sanitation policy.

Air quality indicators include the levels of various air pollutants, while environmental management and monitoring, and public participation were indicators of environmental governance.

A similar approach was adopted for waste, transport, energy and carbon dioxide emissions and, land use and buildings. Each city was assessed on the basis of 29 indicators.

Five performance bands were selected on which the cities were rated. These performance bands were: well above average, above average, average, below average, and well below average.

The performance of the cities was as follows:

Singapore got the place in performance band of ‘well above average’. Cities in ‘above average’ band were Hong Kong, Osaka, Seoul, Taipei, Tokyo and Yokohama. Cities in ‘average’ category were Bangkok, Beijing, Delhi, Guangzhou, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Nanjing, Shanghai and Wuhan.

Cities in the ‘below average’ category were Bengaluru, Hanoi, Kolkata, Manila and Mumbai. The last remaining city — Karachi —got the place in ‘well below category’.

In Karachi, levels of various air pollutants were significantly high. The level of nitrogen dioxide in 2008 was 59.5ug/cu m (micrograms per cubic meter), while the WHO standard is 40ug/cu m.

The level of sulphur dioxide in 2008 was 57.3ug/cu m, while the WHO standard is 20ug/cu m. The level of suspended particulate matter in 2008 was a whooping 180.4 ug/cu m, while the WHO standard is only 20 ug/cu m — nearly 900 per cent increase over the WHO standard.

Karachi’s administration needs to benefit from the Singapore example. Singapore has been very successful in managing its water and wastewater.

This is due to its major emphasis on water supply and demand management, importance of wastewater treatment, stormwater management, effective and efficient institutions and, creating an enabling environment, which includes a strong political will, effective legal and regulatory frameworks and, an experienced and motivated workforce.

Singapore’s water project consists of treating wastewater by using a combination of technologies of microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet disinfection.

This treatment system produces new, safe and clean drinking water.

F. H. MUGHAL Karachi

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