KARACHI: Members of the Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change urged the Sindh government to weed out the land mafia which is devouring mangrove forest areas in Sindh and converting them into housing societies. Continuous unlawful land-grabbing of mangrove forest areas in Sindh has exacerbated the Karachi’s vulnerability to climate change, exposing its residents to storm surges, cyclones and sea intrusion. Senate Committee’s Chairman, Senator Mir Muhammad Yousaf Badini told a media briefing here on Thursday, said a statement. The Senate’s Committee Chairman was sharing his observation about the depressing state of coastal pollution and mangrove deforestation in the coastal areas of Karachi here at the Qasr-e-Naz. The members of the Senate Standing Committee under the leadership of its Chairman Senator Mir Muhammad Yousaf Badini toured the coastal areas of Karachi to take a look at the current state of pollution and the extent of the degradation of coastal and marine ecosystems. He told the media that finding out about the release of 500 million gallons of untreated water into the sea had come as a great shock for the members of the Senate body. It has caused massive damage to the rich marine and coastal ecosystem and made it nearly impossible for existing mangroves forests to survive. He said that these mangroves forests provide a strong natural buffer against climate change-induced disasters in the shape of sea storms, cyclones and erosion in coastal areas. In addition, these forests provide a nutrient-rich habitat for fisheries. He lamented that `We have played havoc with our divine blessings and completely eroded much of the mangroves forests.’ Mir Muhammad Yousaf Badini told reporters that the Senate body members were appalled by the extremely dismal state of coastal areas, which have become highly contaminated. He was angered at how mangroves forests are being destroyed in coastal areas around Karachi by land mafia, cattle grazing and their cutting for fuel wood purposes. The Provincial Forest, Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and relevant government authorities must wake up to the grim state of coastal areas and ecology and play their part to protect to conserve natural resources in the coastal areas, he urged. The Chairman Senate’s Standing Committee, however, pledged to work with the provincial governments of Sindh and Balochistan to hammer out a mechanism and initiate policy measures for protecting coastal and marine ecosystems and further boosting mangroves forest cover to protect vulnerable coastal communities and their livelihoods from climate change-induced risks and disasters. The Senate Committee’s Member and PML-N leader, Ms Nuzhat Sadiq, called for setting up treatment plants in industrial zones and sewage drains from where highly contaminated industrial effluents and domestic sewage pass and flow into the sea. Complacency on this score by the relevant Sindh government authorities is unacceptable, and the provincial government should show interest in protecting the marine and coastal ecology from further devastation, she stressed. PML-N Senator Saleem Zia said that the role of the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (SEAP) is important in protecting coastal and marine ecosystems from being further degraded with pollution of all kinds. They must ensure that the environmental culprits must face legal proceedings and punishment in the light of environmental laws. They the SEPA must ensure that environmental laws are practically in place and are no way violated, no matter howsoever is polluting the coastal areas, he said.