KARACHI: Experts are of the view that the release of Karachi’s total 472 MGD untreated sewage into the sea following the delay of ‘Greater Karachi Sewage Treatment Project’ has made the city vulnerable to environment hazards, public health, socio-economic, food quality and security. The project, also known as S3, is considered as the largest sewerage project in the metropolis to control sea pollution, and would treat 460 million gallon per day (MGD) sewage that will include the construction of new treatment plant as well as the renovation of existing facilities at Site Town and Mauripur Road after completion. According to Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB), two main sewer systems Malir and Lyari rivers, receive around 472 million gallon per day (MGD) sewage of raw municipal as well as release of industrial effluents into the sea. However, KWSB which is the execution authority of S3 Project, blame federal government’s ‘interrupted supply of financial flows’ for delaying the project and release on discharge. “The delay of project has caused serious effects on Karachi’s environment. Karachi is facing environmental catastrophe due to these delays,” said Misbahud Din Farid, managing director KWSB. Misbah said the slow progress due to federal government’s slow release of funds has doubled the cost of project comparing to its original estimated cost. He said the revised PC-1 has been submitted to the federal government for approval of Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) required for leftover segments of Lyari River portion and starting the construction work at Malir River. According to KWSB MD, for current financial year’s allocation, Sindh government has allocated Rs 1,000 million and the federal government has allocated less than Rs 1,000 million against our demand of Rs 1,500 million. “We hope that the approval would be granted before December this year so we could start work on the said project. If we get uninterrupted financial flows now onwards, project could be finished till December 2018,” he said. The four-year project was conceived in 2005 and the construction work started in 2007 but halted afterwards till 2012, the KWSB MD said. Experts said that because of such a huge flow of sewage into sea, pollution, marine life, fish, mangroves, birds nesting on mangroves are affected, besides that it has become health hazardous for areas near coastal belt where sewage is being discharged. “This is a multi-factor issue. It is difficult to pin point specific health hazards,” said Dr Zafar Fatmi, associate professor and head of Research Group Environmental and Occupational Health and Non-Communicable Diseases at the Department of Community Health Sciences, Aga Khan University Karachi. “We cannot calculate direct outcome but that doesn’t mean chronic diseases like cancer are forming,” he said. According to Dr Fatmi, mercury, including other including toxins like heavy metals are accumulated in fish we consume, as this is a direct impact on the human being when coastal life is destroyed. “It can be catastrophic because of eutrophication and bio-accumulation of heavy metals and other pollutants in marine plants and animals. The completion and implementation on S3 must be ensured,” said Muhammad Moazzam Khan, technical adviser on Marine Fisheries for World Wildlife Fund Pakistan He said that the disposal of untreated sewage has already resulted in destruction of marine biota along Manora Channel and in Gizri Creek whereas some of the areas in these two locations are now without life.