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Home Politics Fishermen Urge Candidates to Tackle Plastic Pollution on Karachi’s Coastal Islands

Fishermen Urge Candidates to Tackle Plastic Pollution on Karachi’s Coastal Islands

The dire plea echoes the sentiments of countless islanders, underscoring the urgent call for meaningful and lasting change.
by Faisal Rehman - 07 Feb, 2024 1650
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In the serene coastal enclaves of Karachi, nestled along Pakistan's southern Sindh province, a growing crisis silently unfolds – the islands, once pristine, now find themselves drowning in a sea of polythene bags and debris.

Local fishermen, particularly those near Baba Island, cast their gaze upon the looming environmental catastrophe and urgently call upon election candidates to champion the cause of ecological preservation.

Naveed Bholla, a seasoned 41-year-old fisherman hailing from Baba Island, conveys a bittersweet sentiment as he embarks on his daily hunt in the deep sea. While the upcoming elections bring a glimmer of hope, the plastic bags and scattered litter around Baba Island shatter his optimism.

"Two decades ago, the sea surrounding Baba Island was a sparkling expanse, but today, I witness its transformation into murky and malodorous waters," reflects Naveed, whose deep-sea expeditions now yield meager results due to the omnipresent plastic waste.

The harmful impact extends beyond the visible pollution, as trash and contaminated water begin to take a toll on the once-thriving fish population in the deep sea.

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Acknowledging the political sway of the Pakistan Peoples Party in the region, Naveed urges the party to confront the pressing issue of plastic bags inundating Baba Island. The unrelenting deluge of waste now imperils the livelihoods of approximately 6,000 fishermen, with diminishing catches and economic hardships.

Kalsoom Bholla, Naveed's wife, further underscores the far-reaching consequences, narrating the economic struggles that have compelled her to transfer her children from a private to a government school.

The electoral constituency of NA-243, encompassing coastal regions, assumes heightened environmental importance. The Election Commission of Pakistan reports 861,422 registered voters, with a gender distribution of 58% male and 42% female voters.

Baba and Bhat Islands, despite their small size, face a severe environmental crisis exacerbated by the neglect of sewage treatment plants and unchecked plastic waste. These islands, among the world's most densely populated, demand urgent and comprehensive attention.

Urban planner Muhammad Towheed elucidates the critical need to resuscitate sewage treatment plants and establish new ones at Kemari Jetty. This, he contends, is essential to preserve the fragile ecosystems of coastal islands.

The daily struggle against plastic pollution is palpable among fishermen like 53-year-old Nadeem Brohi. He sees his daily routine as a battle, with mornings dedicated to fishing but disrupted by the relentless task of collecting plastic bags from the sea.

While some political candidates have acknowledged the issue, residents like Mohammad Swalay stress that comprehensive solutions are yet to be implemented. International organizations have raised awareness, but the government's commitment to waste management remains inadequate.

As the upcoming elections approach, the Baba and Bhat Islands residents hope that elected officials will proactively address the environmental crisis, safeguarding both their seas and livelihoods. The pressing need for immediate action to curb plastic pollution resonates through the islands, as they anticipate a savior in the form of a vigilant government.

In the poignant words of Mohammad Swalay, a resident of Baba Island and a dedicated climate activist, "If we do not timely save our oceans, fishermen are just as vulnerable to this calamity. Perhaps, the sea itself will respond.”

The dire plea echoes the sentiments of countless islanders, underscoring the urgent call for meaningful and lasting change.