The Karachi Port Trust (KPT) is conducting a major study to affect various port development plans and improve the marine ecology within its jurisdiction. Karachi Harbour encloses an area of some 62 square kilometres stretching from the Sandspit in the west to Chinna Creek in the east. The major changes have taken place in the Eastern Backwater (Chinna Creek) and the Western Backwater due to the continuous process of reclamation and encroachment, resulting in reduction in the tidal volume of the whole backwater system. In July 1999, the Karachi Port Trust conducted a feasibility study of deepening the upper harbour and approach channel by HR Wallingford, which included Eastern Backwaters (Chinna Creek area) and Western Backwaters having mudflats and mangroves. “After passing of two decades, it has become necessary to conduct [a] feasibility study for determining the existing hydraulic regime in [the] KPT’s areas and water channels for easily flow of seawaters for maintaining and improving the marine ecosystem, especially mangroves plantation, while considering previous and future development projects etc,” an official document noted. The KPT hydraulic studies aim at examining the impacts caused by the geo-morphologic changes to Eastern Backwater’s hydraulic regime brought about by the reclamation and encroachment in Chinna Creek. The study will also determine the volume of seawater displaced through reclamation work in the reclaimed area and settlement, as well as determine the encroachment area in Chinna Creek and Wetland Park from 2000. It will prepare and propose different maintenance dredging plans and additional possible routes, widening of existing route/canal for effectiveness of easy flow of seawater between Chinna Creek and Wetland Park for improvement of ecosystem, especially mangroves plantation. “The project may lead to possible dredging of the canal to cater [to the] volume of water displaced and stoppage of encroachment in Chinna Creek for KPT operational utilisation of [the] existing reclaimed land,” an official said. The Karachi Port Trust is also assessing the viability for deepening and widening of the upper and lower harbour, including PIDC Channel (till Karachi fish harbour), PMA Channel through capital dredging works, while considering and safeguarding the existing infrastructure of berthing areas with the maintenance dredging requirement on a yearly basis. Karachi Harbour is a natural harbour that has been developed over more than a century by a process of construction, reclamation and dredging. The existing approach channel is 8.5 kilometres with a width of 300 metres and a depth of 16 metres. The South Wharf (Ex-PDWCP) and Tipu Sultan Channel is 3.8 kilometres with a depth of 16 metres. The old existing channel (upper and lower harbour) is 8.4 kilometres with an average depth of 12 to 13 metres. The KPT’s existing harbour has 33 dry cargo berths and three liquid cargo handling berths. “By understanding the relevance and significance of the present studies with today’s harbour layout will pave the way for future developments based on knowledge and experience gained from the past and caution applied in [the] decision making,” the official added.