Islands along Karachi's coast not feasible for improvement.

KARACHI -- The twin islands of Bundal and Buddu, which have recently been taken over by the federal government through a presidential ordinance, are located at the mouth of Korangi Creek and spread over 10,000 acres.

The islands have escaped the onslaught of real estate developers twice over the past two decades, first in 2006 and then in 2013. They are in the limelight again when the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government unilaterally took control of the islands from the Sindh government, which vowed to resist the centre's move alleging that it was against the Constitution.

No study, however, has recently been done to assess the ecology of the area where these islands exist.

A 2008 survey done by the World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-P) had recorded 96 fish and 54 bird species along with three species of marine dolphins and turtles here. The mangrove cover was about 3,349 hectares. 'The fragile ecosystem of this area is already under pressure from growing pollution that will intensify in case of any [concrete] development. We should have an environmental audit of this place so that strategies could be developed for its protection. It has no potential for eco-tourism whatsoever,' said WWF-P's regional director Tahir Rasheed.

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He also referred to Article 8 (A) of the Convention on Biological Diversity to which Pakistan is a signatory and required to respect and protect social, cultural stakes of indigenous people.

It may be mentioned here that Korangi Creek is considered to be one of the worst affected water bodies in terms of destruction caused by heavy discharge of hazardous effluent from Karachi's industrial areas, including the export processing zone. The continuous flow of waste water from Cattle Colony has also contributed to pollution.

'No-go areas' Recently, a Dawn team, accompanied by some fishermen, visited the islands.

As our boat chugged away from the jetty, the foul smell filling the air started losing its intensity, letting us notice a few seabirds among the crows dominating the skyline, the mangrove forests covering a sizable area and some mudflats. The water, too, changed its hues, indicating the ambient conditions in which it existed. 'These fertile channels are a source of livelihood for thousands of fishermen and serve as our fishing routes.

We also use them as a stopover to relax,' explained Shafi, a fisherman.

He operates a wooden boat from Ibrahim...

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