KARACHI: The National Forum for Environment and Health (NFEH) organised a seminar on the pollution-free transport system in Karachi here at a local hotel on Thursday. Experts and environmentalists observed that air pollution in Karachi has crossed dangerously high limits due to the lethargy of government. The government could even not develop and clean Saddar area of Karachi even in the 70 years. Effective policies need to be adopted to reduce air pollution in Karachi so as to save people from cancer, asthma and other diseases, experts said on the occasion.
The speakers said that Karachi lacks the very basic infrastructure which could help the concerned authorities to reverse the alarming phenomenon of air pollution as the city direly needed air quality monitoring, mass transit, and vehicles’ inspection systems to protect its environment.
The speakers said that with very basic environmental control and monitoring systems are missing in the city since long which means that it is no surprise that Karachi has been placed among the five most polluted cities in the world.
The speakers including concerned academics and environmentalists lamented that city on one hand had been far from building a proper mass transit system while on the other hand commercial goods and passenger vehicles being plied on roads of Karachi brazenly violating national and international environmental control standards.
The operators of commercial motor vehicles should be bound to meet environmental specification with regard to engine systems and fuel requirements of buses and trucks as negligence on these counts should be strictly checked and penalized under the policing system, said the speakers.
The speakers opined that air pollution would obviously increase in Karachi unless and until a system is in place to check roadworthiness of both commercial and private motor vehicles, which are regular and compulsory features in any other metropolitan city in the developed part of the world.
Speaking on the occasion, a renowned environmentalist Saquib Ejaz said that as per the international standards, a metropolitan city like Karachi should have started the planning to build a mass transit system way back when its population had crossed the 10 million mark.
He said that Karachi had been witnessing the annual growth rate of 4.5 percent of registration and use of new motor vehicles in the city. “But neither roads of the city are vehicle-worthy nor our vehicles are roadworthy as in such a situation, the air and other forms of pollution are bound to increase in Karachi,” he said.
He said that the diesel being used mostly by commercial transport carriers accounted for 54 per cent share in air pollution in the city.
Karachi, like any other developed city, should have a constant system for monitoring of air quality, which would provide real-time data of prevalence of pollutants in the air to the concerned quarters as the same data should be displayed on the live basis on billboard systems on major thoroughfares of the city, he advised.
He said some latest data had indicated that in some of the busy vehicular and commercial corridors in the city, the prevalence of highly hazardous pollutants like Carbon Monoxide had become 240 times higher than allowable limits set by UN’s environmental standards.
NED University of Engineering & Technology’s Department of Urban and Infrastructure Engineering Dr Raza Mehdi said that implementation of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project in the country should lead to the construction of proper transportation and road networks and systems in the country including those for the purpose of mass transit within big cities.