KARACHI, Jan 10: Coastal communities of Keamari Town in a meeting at Kaka Pir village vowed to launch a campaign to stop the cutting of mangroves in the area.
The area people blamed some local influential people for the cutting of mangroves, saying that they were behind the “game of encroaching upon land through earth filling and land reclamation”.
Former union councillor Abdul Ghani, Haji Mohammed Siddique Panjwani and Haji Abu Bakar blamed a local influential person, who, they said, had collected national identity cards from the community people and was using their names to tamper with old revenue record in his favour.
They said that when they saw some new faces and unidentified people coming to their area and dealing in land they decided to stop the cutting of mangroves to save their natural resources.
They said they believed that their livelihood depended on these resources and mangroves played a key role in it.
The meeting attracted a large number of people belonging to different villages who unanimously decided that they would put up resist ance to save the mangroves in the entire area.
“We are afraid of losing our land and natural resources. This reclamation of land by cutting mangroves forests and inviting land mafia for commercial purposes one day will compel the local people to leave their homes,” said former councillor Abdul Ghani.
He criticised a local influential person, who, he said, had already sold out precious land through the same way to “outsiders”.
The meeting was informed that more than 27 acres of mangroves forest had been cut in the name of building a model village comprising 300 houses for the community people.
The meeting participants said that despite the fact that they were voters of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, they were never taken into confidence on any move.
This proved that the PPP leaders were only benefiting some land grabbers and depriving the local people of their rights, they claimed.
They said that at least 300 boats from different coastal areas used the site inside mangroves forest for maintenance and repairing fishing nets dur ing summer and winter.
Most boat owners instead of using the Karachi Fish Harbour prefer to use the local jetty near Kaka Village for landing their catch.
Similarly, they took shelter during the rough sea season for maintenance of boats there, they added.
They said that now they feared that after reclamation of land and cutting of mangroves no place would be left for the fishermen to anchor their boats at a safe area.
Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum chairperson Mohammed Ali Shah said that they had convened a consultative meeting on January 18 at Kaka village and invited all stakeholders, including representatives of the community, WWFPakistan, UNDP GEF Small Grants Programme, KPT Pollution Control Department, Environmental Protection Agency, Shehri and others to discuss the issue and design an effective strategy to save mangroves.
He said that the government authorities should realise the significant role mangroves played to avert cyclones, high tides and disasters and take action against such criminals destroying this natural shield.