Infested Karachi Coastline to Digitization of Punjab Land Record; Infocus Weekly Briefs

by M. Wasim

5 March 2023

A Case of Dumping Sewage to infest Karachi Coastline

The Sindh High Court has directed the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) to carry out an inspection of Seaview to find out whether or not untreated raw sewage is being discharged into the sea and what measures the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) has so far taken to prevent contamination of seawater. A two-judge bench headed by Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi, while taking up hearing a petition filed by some NGOs in 2017 against dumping of industrial waste into the sea, also asked Sepa to inform it about the status of a sewage treatment plant, installed by the CBC. The court also sought a comprehensive report along with volumetric measurement of the amount of discharge of industrial and domestic waste with recommendations to maintain the purity level of the seawater as per international standards and marine life eco-system before adjourning the hearing till April 5.

Trend of High-rise Construction on Karachi Seafront is Unsustainable

It is unfortunate due to official negligence, Karachi`s precious marine ecosystem is being destroyed, because of the dumping of untreated sewage and solid waste into the waters of the Arabian Sea. According to the KWSB`s figures, the city produces 417 MGD of untreated sewage; it is safe to assume that much of this ends up in the sea, while solid waste, including ubiquitous plastic waste, also makes its way into the water through channels and drains. The impacts of this filth has on the marine ecosystem is considerable. And, the petitioners during the judicial hearing claim that contamination is continuing at Seaview, creating major human health hazards.

Digitization of Land Record in Punjab

A delegation from the World Bank (WB) visited this week the Head Office of the Punjab Land Record Authority (PLRA) to review progress on the computerization of urban land records. The delegation was briefed on the project’s progress and the use of modern technology and advanced software to modernize the land administration system in Punjab. The PLRA land record project, which is being implemented with the help of $150 million fund from World Bank is aimed at providing affordable and transparent services to the public. The scope of the project involves the collection and computerization of records, preparation of computerized maps, and linking of rural and urban land records to create a standardized and integrated system of land administration.

Pros and Cons of Digitalizing Land Record

The Punjab Land Record Authority aims to digitize Punjab’s land records, including the Geographic Information System (GIS) survey to accurately access the state land in association with the World Bank. Once completed, these reforms will not only make access to records easier and safer for the public but will also facilitate government access to data for public welfare projects such as city planning and housing.

1st GLOF Warning System in Gilgit-Baltistan

Early warning and radar systems under the Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) Project are being installed in over 200 valleys across Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), the Chief Secretary of GB discloses this week. Local personnel are being trained in operating components like advanced automatic weather stations, rain gauges, snow depth sensors, water depth gauges, water discharge gauges, data loggers and warning posts. The project will also have safe havens, well-equipped high-tech schools, dispensaries and community centers. The first early warning system will be installed at Hassanabad and Hunza next month to monitor the Shisper glacier. The chief secretary briefed the equipment would be installed at 211 locations, spread over 16 valleys and 10 districts of GB.  He says “The system will help communities build resilience and save lives in case of any disaster induced by climate change.”

Glacial lake outburst floods are abrupt events that can cause the release of millions of cubic meters of water and debris, resulting in the loss of lives and property in isolated and impoverished mountain villages. According to Mat Office, Gilgit Baltistan has over 5,000 glaciers and countless glacial lakes. Some of them have been declared “most dangerous”. A large number of people living alongside these streams are at risk of flooding. According to the GB Disasters Management Authority, over 20 GLOF events were reported across GB last year. According to the United Nations Development Project, installation of the system would go a long way in building up resilience among local communities against natural disasters.

ABAD & Steel Producers seek to Resolve Steel Crisis

Association of Builders and Developers of Pakistan (ABAD) has demanded the government to reverse the Regulatory Duty and Additional Regulatory Duty imposed on the import of steel scrap in a bid to support the construction industry. Chairman ABAD Altaf Tai in a press conference, opined when the prices of steel scraps were low in the international market, the association accepted the duties imposed by the government. Now, the government should abolish the duties in order to provide relief to the construction sector. It was earlier claimed by ABAD that the steel manufacturers had formed a cartel to keep the prices high, despite the low price of raw materials in the international market. However, ABAD’s boycott of steel purchases in the last two weeks forced the steel manufacturers to bring down the price of the steel.

steel cement
High-cost Construction Materials make Low-cost Housing Impossible

On the other hand, the Pakistan Large Steel Producers Association (PLSPA) has asked the government to ensure the production and distribution of Pakistan standards and quality steel products in the country. In a statement, the association urged the government to ensure the enforcement of Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority’s regulations for the development of safe construction materials. The authority also released a report, asking the government to ensure the implementation of standards to secure high-quality steel and steel products that may save millions of lives and prevent material damage. The Association warned the government that steel products manufactured outside of established procedures harm structures and cause long-term material and human life damage.

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