Provision of clean air and water to its citizens is the responsibility of every state. For the 220 million citizens of Pakistan unfortunately, clean air and water have become luxuries.
Environmental pollution is having a deadly impact on people’s health. Mystery still shrouds the deaths of 18 people, primarily children, who died in Karachi’s Keamari area in January 2023. As a story in Dawn noted, “Experts are of the view that toxic emissions from industrial units in the area caused the deaths, but thanks to a botched probe by the authorities many questions about the tragedy remain unanswered.” This is not new, 15 deaths occurred in the same area in 2020 as well.
As an Dawn editorial noted, “The Keamari tragedy highlights two major deadly environmental hazards in Karachi: toxic air and industrial units functioning in or near residential areas. Bad air, as medical experts have pointed out, is responsible for causing cancer and gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and kidney diseases, while due to the non-implementation of zoning laws, industrial units and congested, often poor, residential localities have been merged, creating a recipe for disaster. Industrial zones, particularly where units deal with hazardous material, should be located far from residential areas.”
Dawn warned that “Sindh authorities have failed to enforce this basic safety precaution, and at present there seems to be no check on factories and industrial units operating in populated areas. For the sake of the people’s health, action needs to be taken in this regard, while the Sindh administration can definitely do more to rein in rampant air pollution.”