Rising concern over depleting wetlands

Pakistan is the land of natural resources including many wetlands. Wetlands include marshes, ponds, lakes, fens, rivers, floodplains, and swamps as well as the whole range of coastal belt, saltwater marshes, estuaries, mangroves, lagoons and coral reefs. These places are not only a major source of fresh water but also a safer place for a large number of migratory birds besides a contributor towards controlling environmental pollution. Besides, these lands help in sustaining the wide variety of life and contribute to the environment as well as economy of the country. However, as has been the fate of other sectors, these wetlands have fallen prey to the regular mismanagement, lack of vision as well as coordination among relevant departments, besides weak priorities on the part of political leadership. The Sindh province has lost its many natural resources thus leading to terrible damage to the ecology, social life and the provincial economy. Environmental pollution has always been among the least priorities of the successive governments, courtesy the shallow approach of the decision makers. The story of Manchar Lake devastation is not very old. Only three decades ago it was known as Asias largest fresh water lake and fisher folks who have been living around the lake were the wealthiest people but today the lake presents a deserted look as a few old boats can be seen floating in it and most of the fisher folks have migrated to different parts of the country in search of sustainable livelihood. In fact, the problem with this prominent lake started when the provincial government encouraged dumping of the Nara Valley drain water into this reservoir. As a result, this wetland turned into saline water wetland and now the locals have no basic facilities like safe drinking water. They are compelled to buy water for daily use and water-borne diseases are common in children while hygiene situation is alarming there. A German think-tank, in its Global Climate Risk Index 2015, has listed Pakistan amongst the 10 countries most vulnerable to climate change in terms of worsening droughts, water scarcity rising temperature and melting of glaciers. The preservation of wetlands would not only provide the most effective means to control flooding, but also provide a low-cost way to store freshwater and recharge the alarmingly depleting underground water reservoirs. The government and institutes have completely turned their faces and are waiting to let these wetlands die, which is no less than a national crime. The already water-starved Pakistan is no position to afford this aggravating situation any more.

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