SMIU seminar on World Environment Day

Prof Dr Mujeebuddin Sahrai Memon, Vice-Chancellor of Sindh Madressatul Islam University (SMIU) has said pollution of all sorts, climate change, food scarcity, water shortage and increase in temperature has brought the earth in danger zone, hence everyone must play his/her role to normalize the environmental situation in the world. He said this while addressing the seminar organized by Department of Environmental Sciences and ORIC of SMIU, in connection with the World Environment Day, on Friday.

Dr Sahrai said Pakistan has so many blessings and fortunes include strong solar and hydro system, four seasons, major crops, plains, river, sea and mountains. “When we couldn’t preserve our good things then how could we handle the difficulties,” the vice chancellor said and maintained that we are not rightly using our resources for development of the country. He said the younger population is Pakistan’s fortune, which is more than 50 percent of the total population of the country, but we have been failed to get them involved in the betterment of the country.

He said currently we are living in a hazardous world, but younger generation should come forward and play their significant role in spreading awareness among masses including farmers about environmental issues.

The Vice Chancellor said, in Sindh province Karachi city is more affected by the climate change. “Disasters come in seconds but recovering from the destruction takes years. Therefore, before meeting the disaster we must try to handle the issues seriously and consciously,” Dr Sahrai said. He advised the Department of Environment of SMIU to form a waste management system in the campus, and work on the agenda that how can we keep clean and green to the university.

Mr. Muhammad Umer Karim, water resources management specialist, who is working with UN-FAO talked on the environmental issues of Sindh with connection underground water issues. He said, in Sindh, river flow is decreasing due to increase in usage of underground water through tube wells on governmental as well as private level. “The natural flow of a river firstly maintains the underground water level, but it is causing low flow of water in the river,” he said.

Mr. Umar Karim said we are producing good crops in Sindh, but the rise in cash crops results in dry up of Indus River. He said before the colonial era, there was a centuries old natural irrigation system in Sindh, which was environmentally friendly. Looking back to his childhood, he said in his childhood days, people were getting sweet water by giving a cut to the land, but today about 80 to 85 percent water is saline. He said when the river is filled with water, then we are getting fresh underground water.

“Indus River is our lifeline, but we had destroyed our environmental system by shortage of water,” he said and added that ground water availability in Sindh must be maintained up to 8 to 10-million-acre foot. Usage of more underground water will create geological problems too. Therefore, we should not over exploit underground water. He was of the view that floods and rains used to recharge a thin layer of aquifer, which used to be consumed throughout the year through hand pumps or dug Wells. The contiguous irrigation system raised the cropping intensities as well as ground water tables.

Mr. Umer Karim further said the intensification of crops and further use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides has contaminated the resource base. We cannot directly use water for drinking purposes from any source place in the country. This is a very deep environmental issue which needs proper research. He gave a presentation on historical mapping of Ground Water in Sindh by M.H Panhwer, and the Lower Indus Development Plan 1966. In last he encouraged the young students to adopt this topic for future research and diagnosis.

Mr. Jibran Khalid Kidwai, environmentalist and social development consultant and alumni of SMI University, who is working on various national and international projects, emphasized that it is the time we should promote environmental education, inspire action, and renew and expand commitments to protect our planet, country and province. Mr. Jibran also updated the forum that Sindh will be leading province to launch first ever cleaner production policy by Sindh Environmental Protection Agency. He also said that especially in Sindh province there are very serious environmental issues including deforestation, urban and rural flooding, desertification and degradation of fresh water bodies.

Later on, Vice-Chancellor of Sindh Madressatul Islam University gave away shields to the guests. InCharge chairperson of the Department of Environmental Sciences, Dr Imran Ali thanked the guests. The seminar was attended by Dean Faculty of Sciences Prof Dr Aftab Ahmed Shaikh, Director PGS Prof Zahid Ali Channar, Director ORIC Dr Amir Iqbal Umrani, Chairperson Departmental of Environmental Sciences Dr Imran Ali, Department Coordinator Mr. Abdul Majeed Pirzada, Faculty members and students.

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By Arshad Yousafzai

Arshad Yousafzai is a Karachi-based journalist covering Education and Human Rights. He can be reached on Twitter @Arshadyousafzay

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