While a confluence of natural phenomenon aggravates air pollution in winters, the quality of air in Karachi largely remains poor the whole year around. The level of air pollution may worsen if drastic remedial measures are not taken.
There is mounting evidence that the air quality in Pakistan is having a strong impact on our quality of life. Karachi, with a population of 30 million, is in dire need of fresh vegetables and fruits with difficulty breathing due to industrial and transport fumes.
The projects made by the British for Karachi in the 1800s have been ruined by the Pakistani rulers. There was a garden maintained by defunct KMC by the name of Gutter Baghicha in Lyari, sprawling on 1,000 acres of land which people went for recreation for 100 years.
At the time of partition, the Baghicha was referred to as ‘the largest urban forest in Karachi’. Apart from the cultivated area, there were also large tracts of natural vegetation. Old inhabitants speak of deer roaming freely and of an abundance of flora and fauna. It was a place of natural beauty, recreation and calmness.
In the past three decades, Gutter Baghicha has become less and less of a ‘baghicha’ and more and more of a ‘gutter’.
The rulers have occupied it for their personal and political interests. Plots continued to be sold and governments remained silent spectators. If we do not act now, we will lose what is left of this Baghicha – approximately 480 acres.
The so-called actions were carried out against the land mafia on court orders but still nothing has happened yet. They have turned the whole interior of the Baghicha into a dumping site creating heaps of garbage, filth, debris, chemicals, etc elsewhere.
The garbage dumps have not only been creating a considerable degree of pollution in the whole locality but also pose a serious threat to the health of residents as well as visitors of the area.
On February 2, 2020, on the orders of the court, Rangers and Sindh Police conducted an operation to recover the occupied lands. The operation was stopped due to political interference and the role of police has also been questionable.
The stinking water appeared to be the main source of intolerable odour in the surrounding areas. It was pointed out that vegetation through the chemical-contaminated water would undoubtedly produce extremely hazardous crops to be offered to citizens.
The people of Lyari have been fighting to save this baghicha for the past 17 years. What they now need is help and resources. Strict measures should be taken to recover the occupied lands and start cultivation for a Clean and Green Karachi.