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Monday June 24, 2024

Sepa told to verify discharge of industrial waste, untreated sewage into sea

By Jamal Khurshid
March 01, 2023

The Sindh High Court has directed the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) to carry out an inspection in the Sea View area near private restaurants to ascertain from how many places industrial waste and untreated sewage were being discharged into the sea.

The direction came on a petition against the dumping of sewage and industrial waste into the sea. A division bench, headed by Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi, also directed Sepa to examine any steps taken by the Cantonment Board Clifton to prevent such contamination of the seawater and to also ascertain if the treatment plant that was reportedly constructed on seashore near a private restaurant was operational or not.

The court directed the environmental watchdog to submit a comprehensive report with regard to discharge of industrial waste and sewage along with recommendations to ensure that the seawater was maintained as per international standards. It also told the relevant authorities to assist Sepa in carrying out the inspection so that appropriate orders could be passed. It adjourned the hearing till April 5.

The Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) had earlier told the court that a treatment plant had been constructed at Sea View, it was operational and all sewerage and industrial waste was being cleaned at the plant.

CBC officials submitted that the CBC was not dumping any solid waste and garbage in the sea. They said the DHA has constructed a sewerage treatment plant at Qublai Khan with a capacity of 2 mgd and the current flow into the STP system is 0.40 mgd.

They said the CBC was going to complete a sewerage line by March 31 in order to utilise its capacity at the maximum which would throw sewerage water having a flow of 1.50mgd into the treatment plant and ultimately the Arabian Sea would take treated water of these pumping stations and the gravity lines to the tune of 1.90 mgd. They said that apart of Qublai Khan STP, the DHA was already maintaining another treatment plant at the Golf Club having a capacity of 1 mgd.

Regarding the dumping of solid waste, they said, 250 to 400 tonnes per day was being transferred to the designated place by the Sindh government and paying cost to the provincial government for its further disposal at the dumping site.

The petitioners -- World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan, Citizens for Better Environment (Shehri – CBE), Pakistan Animal Welfare Society and others -- approached the court seeking an injunction against the release of industrial waste and untreated sewage into the sea.

The petitioners submitted that Karachi is blessed with a coastline which has for over decades attracted tourists, traders and fishermen. They expressed concerns over the actions and attitude of the city’s civic agencies, which, they said, are seriously harming the environment, specifically the city’s coastline.

It was further submitted in the petition that the discharge of industrial waste and sewage was carried out openly and unconcealed, and that besides contaminating the sea, the entire area was enveloped by an unbearable stench. This is an infringement on the fundamental rights of the citizens, the petitioners maintained.

They feared that such an untoward situation has exposed visitors to serious health risks as sewage and industrial waste causes various diseases and medical conditions; besides oral exposure to sewage-contaminated water can also lead to deadly diseases such as hepatitis – a liver infection.

The petitioners’ counsel stated that the acts and omissions of the civic agencies are not only destroying marine life and disturbing the ecological balance, but their oversight is affecting the health of citizens who visit the beach for recreation purposes.

The counsel maintained that locals, living near the beaches, commonly find corpses of endangered green turtles and other cetaceans which die due to water pollution. They said the sea was being polluted by sewerage water at Sea View near private restaurants.

They requested the court to direct the civic agencies to take steps for cleanliness of the beaches and ensure that sewage and industrial waste was not discharged into the sea.