Pakistan's bid to build some of the country's most expensive real estate in Karachi has cost the megacity dearly, according to climate-based platform The Third Pole.
In the name of development, ecosystems and livelihoods of the city are being demolished, and the risk of disaster is heightened. One of the most affected places is a tidal estuary named Gizri Creek which was earlier part of a wetland ecosystem of mangrove forests.
Data from the last 20 years shows a 15 per cent fall in mangrove cover in Gizri Creek, from about 260 hectares to 220. Experts say Karachi has urbanised rapidly in the last four decades. This urbanisation has brought the development of a huge area of the city's coast.
Karachi, the megacity the country prides itself upon, releases a significant per cent of its sewage untreated into the ocean via open drains that flow past fishing villages.
"In the 1980s, fishers tell The Third Pole, they first noticed that sections of the coastline were being filled in with rocks, pebbles and sand, reclaiming land from the sea to enable the construction of luxury housing, golf resorts and entertainment venues," writes Karachi-based journalist Oonib Azam in his report.
Ibrahim Zia, research officer at Pakistan's National Institute of Oceanography, tells The Third Pole, that this water channel covered nearly 14 square kilometres in 1986.
"Zia calculates this has shrunk to 11 sq km. This means that the equivalent of more than 500 football fields has been taken from the waterway to enable construction work by the Defence Housing Authority (DHA), a real estate developer owned by the Pakistani military," Azam adds.
According to local fishers, Gizri Creek was teeming with fish in the 1970s and 80s. Mangroves which grew in the waterways of Korangi district were nurseries for fish and prawns.
Earlier, mangroves in some places were so dense that even a single man could not pass through them. Another old timer says that fishers used to get a good catch just two kilometres from select villages.
As more land was taken for development mangroves were cut down. This led to the destabilisation of the delicate ecosystems mangroves sustained.
According to The Third Pole, the area of reclaimed land from the creek is now a sea of concrete, wedding halls, clubs and hotels.
With the ongoing rapid development work, one which is showing no sign of stopping, both pollution and ecological disturbance created by land reclamation, are also continuing. (ANI)