Govt urged to comply with environmental standards

KARACHI: Participants of a seminar were informed that owing to absence of any fitness inspection system, commercial motor vehicles in Karachi have been brazenly using fuel and engine systems, which don’t even comply with the bare minimum international and national environmental standards, says a Press release.

The seminar on pollution-free transport was organized by National Forum for Environment and Health (NFEH) under its clean air campaign.

The speakers on the occasion said that Karachi lacked the very basic infrastructure, which could help the concerned authorities to reverse the alarming phenomenon of air pollution as the city direly needed air quality monitoring, mass transit, and vehicles’ inspection systems to protect its environment.

The speakers said that with very basic environmental control and monitoring systems missing in the city since long, there was no surprise that Karachi had been placed among the five most polluted cities in the world.

The speakers including concerned academics and environmentalists lamented that city on one hand had been far from building a proper mass transit system while on the other hand commercial goods and passenger vehicles being plied on roads of Karachi brazenly violated national and international environmental control standards.

The operators of commercial motor vehicles should be bound to meet environmental specification with regard to engine systems and fuel requirements of buses and trucks as negligence on these counts should be strictly checked and penalized under the policing system, said the speakers.

The speakers opined that air pollution would bound to increase in Karachi unless and until a system was in place to check roadworthiness of both commercial and private motor vehicles, which had been a regular and compulsory feature in any other metropolitan city in developed part of the world.

Speaking on the occasion, Saquib Ejaz Hussain, an environmental consultant belonging to EPC Pakistan, said that as per the international standards, a metropolitan city like Karachi should have started the planning to build a mass transit system way back when its population had crossed the 10 million mark.

He said that Karachi had been witnessing annual growth rate of 4.5 per cent of registration and use of new motor vehicles in the city. “But neither roads of the city are vehicle-worthy nor our vehicles are roadworthy as in such a situation, the air and other forms of pollution is bound to increase in Karachi,” he said.

He said that diesel being used mostly by commercial transport carriers accounted for 54 per cent share in air pollution in the city.

He said that Karachi like any other developed city should have a constant system for monitoring of air quality, which would provide real time data of prevalence of pollutants in the air to the concerned quarters as the same data should be displayed on live basis on billboard systems on major thoroughfares of the city.

He said some latest data had indicated that in some of the busy vehicular and commercial corridors in the city, the prevalence of highly hazardous pollutants like Carbon Monoxide had become 240 times higher than allowable limits set by UN’s environmental standards.
Prof Dr Raza Mehdi of Department of Urban and Infrastructure Engineering of NED University of Engineering & Technology said that implementation of China Pakistan Economic Corridor project in the country should lead to construction of proper transportation and road networks and systems in the country including those for the purpose of mass transit within big cities.

Faisal Khalil, secretary of Oil Companies’ Advisory Council, said that commercial motor vehicles should be introduced in the market on urgent basis, having Euro-II compliant engines and systems as per the international vehicular standards.

He said that infrastructure should be built in cities for mass and goods’ transportation, which would meet the emissions and fuel specification set by the international community.
He said that commercial vehicles should go through fitness system to check their roadworthiness on annual basis without fail to curb the phenomena of pollution.

He said that refineries and oil companies in the country mostly had built systems to produce fuel compliant with the European and international standards but similar infrastructure should be also be evolved for commercial vehicles enabling them to meet the same compulsory global specifications.

NFEH President Naeem Qureshi said that governmental, concerned civil society organizations, stakeholders of trade and industry should sit together to find a way from the present environmental crisis the cities like Karachi had been facing.

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