Green benches needed in Sindh

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The news Hazardous discharges in Ravi: Green Bench summons Wasa, EPA officials (April 13), wherein the green bench in Lahore High Court had taken up its first case involving an environmental issue, filled me with joy that the environment has assumed judicial importance in Pakistan. This also led me to wonder why Sindh High Court, despite the orders by the Supreme Court, has not yet established such benches as could deal with environment-related cases.
There is a dire need for establishing such benches in Sindh as has major environmental issues. The issue includes marine pollution, discharge of millions of tons of untreated industrial waste in freshwater bodies and sea, degradation of lakes, destruction of delta, unchecked cutting of mangroves, and degradation of wetlands.
The Environmental Protection Agency, which is mandated to look after these cases, has miserably failed. The tragic fact is that this agency, which is the approving authority of environmental impact assessment, has not kept any report on its website. Mega projects of international financial institutions which pose a potential threat to environment are carried out without any check by the EPA.
Such apathy of the EPA has emboldened anti-environment forces to let loose a reign of their nasty designs and projects.
I can give one example of such lethargy. The land mafia has been encroaching upon coastal land by cutting environment – friendly mangroves.
The Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum had launched a mega campaign but was not able to check the mafia because it did not enjoy the support of environment-related departments.
In this gloomy scenario, the establishment of green benches will be a significant development and will bring a ray of hope to environmentalists and nature lovers.
Jamil Junejo
Hyderabad


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