October 30th, 2020

By Shaukat Korai 


Residents in the localities of Kohi and Saleh Goth of Malir are falling ill in rising numbers to different diseases due to polluted water contaminated by effluents from textile factories and other industries in Karachi.

Residents say the contaminated water laced with acid, bleach, and other hazardous chemicals have also rendered farms uncultivable in the area. People say chemical effluents from the factories flow untreated into Sukhan drain. This has led to the contamination of underground water. Besides, houses and streets in the area are inundated with polluted water due to the lack of any sewerage system in the localities.

A majority of residents are falling prey to skin diseases and jaundice. Residents in Saleh Goth say the contaminated water has led to a drastic drop in crop yields while some crops cannot be cultivated on the farms any longer. Nadeem Mir Bahr, an ecologist, and expert of the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN), says water contaminated with acid and chemicals is equally hazardous for humans and farmlands.

Munir Ahmed Abbasi, Deputy Director of the Environment Protection Agency, says his agency has started taking immediate action against factories on receiving complaints from the residents.

Arshad Baloch, an environmental activist in Saleh Goth, is involved in a campaign to shift all factories from residential areas to the industrial zone. He says factories must not be allowed to operate in residential areas.

Mirza Ikhtiar Baig, a former aide to Prime Minister on textile affairs, says when the factories were established in the area it had a very low population.  He is of the opinion that factories now have to be shifted from the populated areas to the industrial zone.

Arshad Baloch says the contaminated and hazardous water had inundated houses of the residents during rains in the city.

Residents say that they have sent over 100 emails to provincial and federal institutions as well as sent complaints to the prime minister, chief minister, and other senior government officials but no action has been taken to redress hazards posed by the chemical contamination in the area.