Urban plan for Sindh coastal belt will hit fisherfolk, biodiversity

Urban plan for Sindh coastal belt will hit fisherfolk, biodiversity The Economic Coordination Committee of the federal cabinet of Pakistan approved the proposal of the Diamond Bar Island City in October 2006. The project, to be built on the 4,856-hectacre (ha) Buddo and Bundal islands located off the southwestern tip of Karachi coast, is facing stiff resistance because it poses an environmental threat to marine life and the mangroves, besides being a livelihood issue for the fisherfolk.

Emaar, a uae-based firm, will develop the project at a cost of us $43.14 billion. It envisages real estate projects for residential, commercial and leisure purposes, besides industrial parks, free zones and port terminals.
Livelihoods to suffer Bundal island is the largest of over 20 islands located along the coastal belt of the Sindh province.The twin islands locally called Dingi and Bhundaar, are bordered by the Korangi, Phitti and Jhari creeks, the fishermen's gateways to the sea. About 500,000 fishermen carry out fishing in the vicinity of these islands. The island also serves as a stopover for the fishermen heading to or returning from the sea. "If the project comes through, small fishermen will lose their passage to the sea. This will restrict the movement of more than 5,000 fishing boats forcing fisherfolk to take a longer route to reach the sea,' says Muhammad Ali Shah, president of the Pakistan Fisher Folk Forum.

After the approval of the project on October 11, prime minister Shaukat Aziz asked the minister of ports and shipping to work out comprehensive details within three months to gauge whether it would have any adverse environmental or other hydrological impact but Shah considers this a formality. "The government will conduct a cosmetic assessment study, eventually signalling all green for the project,' he says. Shah also feels that the proposed city is being developed essentially for the