KARACHI: Chairman, Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) Muhammad Ali Shah has underlined the need to take measures to reduce harmful impacts of coal projects on the environment and focus on the community’s health in the vicinity.
Shah was addressing to a rally against negative impacts of coal over health of the people and environment here on Saturday.
Rally took place from the Art Council to Karachi Press Club with placards holding different slogans to protect the environment and the community health. There were more than 1,000 community members from the coastal belt raising their voice against the degradation of the environment and community health.
Opposing to the coal related public projects Shah said, “A full stop to all public finance to coal related projects.”
He said that transportation, lifting, and dumping of coal in the absence of any safety measures had badly affected the area, particularly nearby areas.
Shah said that coal consumption was increased by the industries so that coal is imported in huge quantity at different places i.e. Port Qasim, Karachi Port Trust and Hubco. Unsafe coal transportation from these areas has affected communities’ health and ruined their livelihood.
The affected communities expressed serious concern over degradation of environment and livelihood of local people and demanded the government to protect rights of the local population. They underlined the need to adopt alternative energy sources like wind and solar instead of coal.
PFF chairman briefed the rally participants about threats of coal power plants on environment and biodiversity. Sindh is more prone to climate change due to its geographical location as compared to other provinces, he said. These power plants will destroy the marine ecology and will be very much harmful for the fishing communities of areas.
He said burning coal is the largest single source of carbon dioxide emission in the world. Coal transportation has affected lives of people living in the surroundings of the port and nearby areas.
Shah said that coal is responsible for over 800,000 early deaths every year globally and many more millions population suffer serious and minor illnesses. Around 670,000 people die prematurely per year in the China as a result of coal related pollution, he said adding that in the US coal kills around 13,000 people annually.
Transportation, lifting and dumping of coal in the absence of any measures had badly affected the areas and whole area of port Bin Qasim remains covered in a blanket of coal dust, he said.
He mentioned that mining and burning coal harm human health both directly and indirectly. Thousands of people die in the mining accidents each year. Digging up coal often involves the displacement of communities of the Thar, with little or no compensation.
Coal extraction in Thar is done through open pit mining. Open mining destroys the landscape of both pit and surrounding areas, he said. Efforts to restore these areas often fail and the surface above the underground mines sinks. Plants and animals are eliminated, and the living soil is shoveled away.
In the last, chairperson PFF demanded that there is a need to mobilize public finance to alter democratic renewable and cleans energy system for people and marginalized communities as soon as practicable.