STAFF REPORT KHI: Karachi, the main hub of Pakistans international trade, now stands exposed to multiple challenges like disorganised, ill-coordinated institutional and governance framework with substantial capacity deficits.
“The people and assets are at possible risk and key actions are desperately required to make Karachi a resilient city in addition to identifying the critical governance, institutional, technological gaps and constraints,” cautions a recent study assessing the citys vulnerability to possible climate change impacts.
The report Karachi city climate change adaptation strategy a roadmap is conducted by Shehri-Citizens for a Better Environment Department of Architecture and Planning of the NED University of Engineering and Technology. Farhan Anwar, an urban planner, is its author.
According to the author, Karachi accounts for 95 per cent of Pakistans foreign trade and contributed 30 per cent to national industrial production. It also accounted for 40 per cent of national employment in large-scale manufacturing and contributed 25 per cent of national and 40 per cent of provincial revenues.
However, despite serving as the countrys commercial backbone, the provincial metropolis hasnt been made a secure place for its inhabitants and serious gaps in governance put it an increased risk in times of a calamity, the report points out.
It says there is increasing socioeconomic disparity and growing environmental degradation. Human settlements such as slums and hill settlements are exposed to fluvial, storm water flooding risk and hill torrents in the absence of appropriate protection and emergency response systems.
In addition, there is no provision for flood storage areas in the city. Groundwater table is already lowering and aquifers are threatened due to human activities such as sand extraction, it pointed out.
In the context of a possible sea-level rise, adverse biodiversity impacts on wetlands and tidal zones and possible loss of flora and fauna can be anticipated. Mangroves that can act as a buffer against tidal flooding were already being devastated, it said.
The report envisages that the rate of emission of CO2 is not only rapid but also showing a regular and positive trend without any significant downfall throughout the computed time. The CO2 emission in atmosphere reached up to 151 million tons in 2006 that was just 39 million tons in 1980.
“Air pollution levels in Karachi are extremely high by international standards and are rising each year. Vehicle-generated air pollution is severe, with high concentrations of fine and ultra fine particles in the air, which can cause respiratory problems among a large number of Karachis urban residents,” it said while referring to a report of the ADB.
Environmentalists are of the view that an appalling lack of focus and priority on providing the city with socially, environmentally and financially viable transport options has led to a phenomenal growth in the numbers of private vehicle usage that is now globally being discouraged as a sustainable mode of transport in terms of adverse impacts on the environment and sustainable growth of urban settlements.
They suggest that drastic climate change is inevitable, the only way to lessen its impact is to prepare ourselves and adapt to it in the best possible manner.
“We need a flood insurance cover and develop a ground water profile and policy,” he said, while stressing on a drought plan for Karachi along with a revision policies in various institutions.
Dr Noman Ahmed, professor and chairman of Architecture and Planning Department at the NED University, said, we need to demonstrate the negative impact of climate change in our day-to-day lives, and this will rapidly bring awareness among the public.