‘Mangrove encroachers need to be stopped’

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KARACHI – Fisher folk communities of Keamari Town on Monday vowed to launch a campaign to stop mangrove-cutting in the area at meeting in Kakapir village.
They pointed out that influential people of the area are carrying out earth-filling projects to encroach mangrove land.
“These influential people collect national identity cards from fisher folk and use their names to tamper old revenue records in their favour,” said former councillor Abdul Ghani, Haji Mohammed Siddique Panjwani and Haji Abu Bakar.
“The fisher folk believe that mangroves must be protected because livelihood depends on them,” they added.
“We are afraid of losing our land and natural resources. This reclamation of land by cutting mangroves forests and inviting land mafia for commercial purposes would one day compel locals to leave the area,” Ghani said.
The meeting was informed that more than 27 acres of mangrove forests have been destroyed under the pretext of building a model village comprising 300 houses for the fisher folk.
The participants of the meeting said that despite the fact that they are also voters of the ruling PPP, they were not being taken into confidence in any decision-making.
“This proves that PPP leaders are only benefiting certain land grabbers and depriving the people of their rights,” they said.They pointed out that at least fisher folk from different coastal areas use the area inside mangrove forests for the maintenance and repair work of their fishing nets during the summer and winter seasons.
“Most boat owners, instead of using the city’s fish harbor, prefer the local jetty near Kakapir village for finding their catch. Similarly, they take shelter during the rough sea season for maintenance of boats there. Now they fear that after land reclamation and mangrove-cutting, they would be deprived of a safe place to anchor their boats,” they said.
Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum Chairperson Mohammed Ali Shah said that a a consultative meeting has been convened on January 18 at Kakapir village and all stakeholders including representatives of the fisher folk community, WWF-Pakistan, UNDP GEF Small Grants Programme, KPT Pollution Control Department, Environmental Protection Agency, Shehri and others have been invited to discuss the issue and design an effective strategy to save mangroves.
He said the government authorities should realise the significant role of mangroves in reducing losses caused by disasters such as cyclones and high tides and take action against criminals destroying this natural shield.