Heritage at stake: negligence destroying Keenjhar Lake

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The Keenjhar Lake – a Ramsar site, an important wetland, a protected wildlife sanctuary and one of the main sources of potable water for Karachi – is being destroyed due to negligence, said World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF)-Pakistan’s Indus for All Programme Coordinator Nasir Ali Panhwar. He warned that if certain measures are not taken on immediate basis, the lake would be completely destroyed.
Panhwar was addressing the participants of a fisheries festival organised by the Indus for All Programme to highlight the importance of the Keenjhar Lake. “The Keenjhar Lake is facing a lot of environmental problems such as pollution, disappearance of migratory birds, scarcity of freshwater and increase in animal waste and fish catch for commercial purposes. Moreover, oil discharged by cars, buses and trucks in the lake is also contaminating the water and causing health hazards for the local people, so certain precautionary measures must be taken on immediate basis to save this important wetland,” said Panhwar.
He said that through this festival, the WWF intends to convey a message about environmental challenges encountered by the Keenjhar Lake. He also said that due to climate changes, various migratory birds that used to arrive at the lake have stopped doing so. He further said that pollution has increased in the lake water, which has created a considerable number of problems for biodiversity. Panhwar said that Sindh’s versatile poet Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai had also depicted the beauty of Keenjhar in his poetry and dedicated most of his poetry to nature. He said that this site has been a source of inspiration and motivation for poets and writers of the province. He also said that the Keenjhar Lake is a collective heritage of the people of the province, so struggles for its preservation must be made.
He further said that knowledge about the environment should never be limited to academic works, but it should be propagated through festivals to the local communities that are directly affected by it.
Panhwar said that no organisation could handle all these environmental challenges alone, so they must work together for effective solutions. He said that the Indus for All Programme has established the Keenjhar Conservation and Information Centre for facilitating the tourists coming from every nook and corner of the world.
Wetland specialist from Netherlands, Whim Gizin, said on the occasion that this festival is unique and interesting due to close intimacy of culture and nature. Talking to the media, Indus for All Programme team leader Rab Nawaz said that finding solutions to environmental problems and working on them is a long-term process, and that positive results were being achieved with the passage of time.
During the event, students from nature clubs delivered speeches on environmental issues and presented tableaux on stage. Singers like Balak Sindhi, Allah Dino Khaskheli, Hafiz Fazil Palari and Fakeer Murad Maganhar performed their songs and captivated the audience. Famous comedian Qadir Bux Mitho also entertained the audience. On the occasion, a poetry session was also held. Moor Sagar, Abid Sindhi, Ali Izhar, Zulfiqar Shahani, Sarvech Sajavil, Marium Majeedi, Qavi, Aman Chandio and Ayaz Amar Shaikh recited poetry on nature and the Keenjhar Lake.

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