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WWF urges the need to promote water efficiency in the city

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By Rafiq Vayani

KARACHI: Pakistan is a water stressed country and is nearing the threshold of water scarcity. This was stated by speakers during a media briefing session conducted by WWF-Pakistan under the project titled International Labour and Environmental Standards (ILES), Application in Pakistan’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). This six-year project, funded by the European Union, is jointly being implemented with the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Karachi, Lahore, Sialkot and Faisalabad. The project primarily focuses on reducing the use of water and hazardous chemicals by 15 to 20 per cent in SMEs. It promotes sustainable production and plans to mobilise and build capacity of more than 500 textile and leather industries in Pakistan.

Speaking on the occasion, Arjmand Qayyum, Coordinator ILES, WWF-Pakistan said that the textile and leather sectors represent the largest domain of the industrial base and play a key role in the country’s economy. He shared that these industries are resource intensive where large amounts of water, energy and chemicals of different classes are used, contributing to an overall increase in pollution levels in the country. This has consequential impacts on natural resources, the health of the people and eventually on overall economic conditions. He also said that due to poor management and unwise use of water, most of our population is deprived of this basic amenity of life. He informed that WWF-Pakistan will initiate a study on the situation analysis of water resources in Karachi and will establish a case for a citywide partnership for responsible use of the resource.

According to Muhammad Moazzam Khan, Technical Advisor, WWF-Pakistan city treatment plants (TP) particularly TP-1, TP-2 and TP-3 located in SITE, Mahmoodabad and Maripur are not functional since 2013. Due to this, untreated sewage of both the industrial and domestic sectors is dumped into the sea through nallahs particularly Lyari, Malir, Frere, Kalri, Railway and Nehr Khayam. He also shared that the implementation of laws pertaining to industrial effluents generated from the textile and leather industries is very weak. Further, the industrial waste from these industries contains heavy metals such as copper, chromium, and nickel. He also said that a large population of the city does not have access to safe drinking water as its water resources are being contaminated due to multiple reasons. He was of the view that safe drinking water should be made available to the population and industries needs to ensure the proper disposal of their solid and liquid waste. Industries should also ensure that the labour force working in their facilities are not exposed to harmful chemicals.

While, Komal Naeem, Senior Officer ILES said that it is critical to analyse the current situation and revise statistics on water quantity and quality in the city. Furthermore, responding to a question regarding One Planet City Challenge (OPCC) she said that WWF-Pakistan is working to introduce renewable energy in Karachi and through the OPCC carbon emissions estimates from different sectors in the city will be collected and green initiatives undertaken by the city government reported. All relevant stakeholders in the city like SEPA, KW&SB, and other civil society organisations are already on board and will collaborate with WWF-Pakistan for both ILES and OPCC. In order to register Karachi city for OPCC, the various industrial sectors in the city must reduce their carbon footprint and to be reported later. These initiatives will help address issues related to water and energy efficiency in Karachi while a better image of Karachi will be projected in front of the world.

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