KARACHI: Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) took serious notice of commercialization of roads of Karachi without taking it on board and established that it is delineated in Sindh Environmental Protection Act 2014 (SEP Act 14) that any change in land use must be preceded by an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in which the cumulative impact of all alterations in land use will have to be clearly evaluated. Furthermore, no development will proceed with any alteration unless an approval has been granted by SEPA.
In separate letters issued here to all the six Cantonment Boards including Malir, Faisal, Korangi Creek, Karachi, Clifton and Manora of Karachi; Sindh Building Control Authority and Karachi Development Authority, the Director General SEPA Naeem Ahmed Mughal said that the role of SEPA in the indiscriminate construction has been ignored as well as densification of roads has been undertaken without a master plan. As such a stage has been reached that majority of the plots on the commercial roads are being converted into multistory buildings, high risers and sky scrapers.
He maintained that the policy adopted for the strip commercialization is against environmental sustainability principles since it is neither socially nor environmentally acceptable.
"For each environmental impact assessment document submitted to SEPA we have accepted their plan with a number of conditions to suit to the requirements of environmental and social considerations. We may not have been required to do this if the master plan department had done its job by keeping the sustainability principles in view and evaluating the impact of densification and commercialization on the overall environs of the corridors", he added.
He regretted that traffic congestion was already an unsolved problem in Karachi but densification of the roads has added several multiples of the vehicles to the capacity of the roads leading to degradation of urban air quality. What was needed at the outset was to have a meaningful Traffic Management Plan that could accommodate the parking of the vehicles into the parking plazas. In the absence of a traffic management plan the buildings that have been constructed have left the parking issue to the owner of the vehicles causing frequent traffic jams on these roads whereby suffering of general public have tremendously increased.
DG SEPA said in the letter that taking cognizance of the issues raised above in the light of Sindh Environmental Protection Act 2014, it is imperative on his part to demand an urgent submission of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) & Traffic Management Plan (TMP) for all commercialized roads in your jurisdiction. This exercise is essentially to be achieved to explore way forward towards addressing further concern on the commercialized roads.