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September 24, 2020

SHC directs CBC, DHA to file comments on dumping of sewage into sea

Karachi

September 24, 2020

The Sindh High Court (SHC) has directed the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) and Defence Housing Authority (DHA) to file comprehensive reports with regard to dumping of sewage and industrial waste in the Arabia Sea near private restaurants in Sea View.

The direction came on a petition against the dumping of sewage and industrial waste into the sea. The petitioners — World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-Pakistan), Citizens for Better Environment (Shehri – CBE), Pakistan Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and others —approached the high court seeking an injunction against release of industrial waste and untreated sewage into the sea.

They submitted that Karachi was blessed with a coastline that had been attracting tourists, traders and fishermen for several decades. They expressed concerns over the actions and attitude of the metropolis’ civic agencies which were seriously harming the environment, specifically the city’s coastline.

Two sewage and industrial waste dumps had been installed at Sea View which were polluting the sea, maintained the petitioners as they requested the SHC to order action against those responsible for the installation of the waste dumps in order to protect marine life and reduce health risks.

The petitioners also attached in the application pictures taken both on-site and through Google Earth which clearly showed the sewage and industrial dumps installed at an approximate distance of 50 metres from the sea. The pictures also showed the open discharge of waste into the sea.

It was further submitted in the petition that the flow of industrial waste and sewage into the sea was happening openly unconcealed and this, besides contaminating the sea, was causing the entire area to be enveloped by an unbearable stench. The petitioners maintained that it was an infringement of the fundamental rights of the citizens.

They expressed the fear that such an untoward situation had been exposing the visitors of beach to serious health risks as sewage and industrial waste was causing various diseases and medical conditions. Besides, oral exposure to sewage-contaminated water could also give root to deadly diseases such as hepatitis, they stated.

The petitioners’ counsel submitted that the acts and omissions of the civic agencies were not only destroying marine life and disturbing the ecological balance but their oversight was affecting the health of citizens who visited the beach for recreation.

The counsels maintained that locals living near the beaches commonly found corpses of endangered green turtles and other cetaceans that had died due to water pollution. Referring to the pictures taken from Google Earth, the counsels brought the court’s attention towards the water around Sea View which appeared dirty and dark in colour; whereas, water around the beach at other coastal areas of Pakistan such as Gwadar looked blue and clear.

The petitioners requested the SHC 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.

The SHC, on a previous hearing, had ordered the CBC and DHA to submit comments regarding the discharge of sewage and industrial water into the Arabian Sea near private restaurants. The CBC law officer submitted that building plans of private restaurants were not approved by the cantonment board; however, it seemed that the same had been approved by the DHA at their own.

A division bench of the SHC headed by Justice Mohammad Shafi Siddiqui observed that the CBC lawyer did not file a report and sought time to do so. The high court observed that it appeared that no compliance had been made by the CBC and DHA with its previous order issued on October 22 last year.

The SHC directed the CBA and DHA to file comprehensive comments with regard to dumping of sewage into the sea before the next date of hearing and warned that the failure to comply with the order would prompt the court to summon the delinquent officers in person for explanation.