South Asia

Published: Friday 31 December 2004

Unique coast guard: The Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) is working for the formation of a monitoring and liaison committee to improve the dismal environmental condition in the islands off the Karachi coast and check the unhindered discharge of effluents into the sea. SEPA director general Shafiq Khuso says the committee would comprise representatives of all stakeholders, including the city government, water sewerage board, industrial associations, sepa, Karachi Port Trust (KPT), the fisheries department, fishermen cooperative societies and environmental experts.

About 200 million gallons of industrial and untreated effluents are discharged into the sea daily through the Lyari River, says Yahya Usmani, chief of KPT Marine Control Department. The living condition of the fisherfolk in the islands off the coast is pathetic. "The fishing community earns considerable foreign exchange for the country but its living condition is miserable," rue Haji Abdullah, Muhammad Ali and Mahmood Ibrahim, social welfare activists.

Poison rain: Farmers in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province, one of the biggest opium growing regions in the country, allege that the US has sprayed poison on their fields, destroying even food crops and making people ill. Moammed Rafi Safi, a doctor in the area, confirms that the number of people with skin, eye and respiratory diseases had increased markedly since the time the alleged spraying took place.

The government launched a probe into the matter on November 18, 2004. Though the US had recently said it wanted to act tough against drug trade in Afghanistan, the US military has denied the aerial spraying. But Nangarhar's provincial governor Din Mohammed disagrees: "No doubt an aerial spray has taken place. I don't know who might be behind this but you know that the airspace of Afghanistan is under US control." Opium production in Afghanistan has increased by 64 per cent in 2004 compared to last year, according to a UN report.

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.