Environmental polluters and conservationists join hands for community development

Environmental polluters and conservationists join hands for community development

KARACHI: World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-Pakistan), which is renowned in nature conversations at international level, has entered into a partnership on Thursday with Engro Corporation,on community development and fishery improvement ; Engro which is some what polluting the environment at different projects, on community development and fishery improvement.

To explore sustainable environmental solutions and also address the need for community development, the country heads of both organizations, signed this two-and-half-year project in a local hotel on Thursday.

Interestingly, officials of Sindh Wildlife Department, the officials' custodian of wildlife and cetaceans and the officials of Coastal Development Department were also present to endorse the agreement between WWF-Pakistan and Engro Corporation. For this project, Engro Corporation will pay USD 460,000 to WWF-Pakistan for 'Sustainable Fishing Entrepreneurship - a citizen based approach to saving Pakistan's unique marine environment' and it will be implemented in Kakapir, Ibrahim Hyderi and Rehri Goth, Karachi. The main purpose of the project is to build the capacity of fisher folk to decrease post-harvest losses, reduce by-catch and over fishing in the marine waters of Pakistan.

This is not the first time, when WWF-Pakistan has sheltered Engro Corporation. In the past, whenever the local media has highlighted the issue of polluted water being poured from Engro's milk factory, located right on the edge of River Indus, between Sukkur and Rohri, into the Indus water, which is internationally protected due to the presence of the River Indus Blind Dolphins. WWF comes to refuge . Engro Corporation on the name of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) pays some amount of funds to WWF-Pakistan to run a small project for the conservation of river dolphins.

Engro is also excavating coal in Thar Desert, which is also disastrous to environment and would be causing greenhouse gases emission in the future.

Recently, Engro Corporation has established two terminals at Port Qasim,Karachi, for which large number of the protected mangroves, which are a part of River Indus delta, were cut down.

Despite, all these activities, WWF-Pakistan is providing shelter by initiating such projects.

Daily Times contacted Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and President Engro Corporation, Khalid Siraj Subhani to get his official version. "Any mega projects can not be done with out disturbing of the environment," Subhani justified the massive cutting of mangroves. "But we need to balance the environment by mitigating the environmental losses that mega project has caused, so we did, as we planted large number of the mangroves with the help of IUCN," he told Daily Times.

He said that this project money (460,000 USD) is one percent of company's annual income that is being used as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) that is being used on the development of alternative livelihoods to fishing communities and reduce harmful fishing practices.

On other hand, WWF-Pakistan authorities also justified their position for signing partnerships with polluters. Talking to Daily Times, Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General, WWF-Pakistan bluntly rejected that WWF is endorsing anti-environmental activities of Engro Corporation.

"We are an independent organization and by signing this project we are not certifying Engro or endorsing their activities, this is Engro's CSR and we will run this project for the betterment of fishing communities," he told Daily Times. He further said that by signing this project, WWF-Pakistan is not issuing green certificate to the Engro Corporation, but it is simply a project that will be used for the conservation of marine life.

This is not the first time that instead of nature conservation, WWF-Pakistan has emphasized most of its project on skill development of the communities, such as 'improving fishing skills of fishermen communities'.

In recent past, a 50 year project, Indus for All, funded by Netherlands, halted only after five years in its first phase, as instead of focusing on critical ecosystems of Indus ecoregion, WWF-Pakistan focused on community development. After first five years, Netherlands halted the project and WWF-Pakistan lost 50 years project in its first phase of five years, due to this approach.

Due to stopping of the project, all initiatives that WWF-Pakistan planned for "community development" stopped too. Like, WWF started two information technology centers that were constructed during the project are now deserted and seven vocational training centers and two bakeries that WWF established are closed.