Coastal community elders reject island sale

KARACHI: A large crowd of community elders belonging to different coastal areas of Karachi on Friday supported the move launched by the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum PFF against the sale of twin islands, Dingi and
Bundhar.

The meeting convened by the PFF at its office in Ibrahim Hydri was the part of campaign to save natural resources. Malik Mohammed Charan said they will not accept any development, which may cause destruction of their natural resources or affect livelihoods of hundreds of people, depending on fishing. He criticized the successive governments, which never initiated development schemes for coastal villages. But now, he said, certain people are initiating deal to do investment for building mega city projects by destroying mangroves and cutting ff routes of fishing vessels.

According to reports, real estate tycoon Malik Riaz’s Bahria Town and a US investment group signed a $15 to $20 billion memorandum of understanding MoU to develop Net City, Education City, Health City, Port City and other infrastructure projects on the islands located near Karachi’s coastal locality of Ibrahim Hyderi.

There were also plans to build one of the most modern shopping malls on the island city. However, community elders, during the meeting, vowed to protect their ancestral lands and not allow these developments to take place.

At least 15000 boats are being operated from different jetties located along the 129km long city coast. They are living a peaceful life through generations but presently due to such anticommunity and antienvironment initiatives by the government has put their lives uncertain and vulnerable.

Earlier, PFF chairperson Mohammed Ali Shah briefed the people about the island city and said it is time to come together to foil the bid. He warned in case of any delay or reluctance may cause widely displacement and destruction of families, who live along the coast. Umar Kariani, another elder appreciated the move launched by PFF and assured full support on behalf of the area people, saying they are ready to give sacrifice to save resources they have been inherited by their forefathers.

Representatives of more than one dozen community organizations assured their support to PFF for protecting natural resources, whose, they claim are real custodians. They announced that in case government refuses to get the project back, hundreds of people on board their boats will block ports channels in protest, which may end for many days until the government withdraws this project.

“We will come there with entire families and children on boats to stay there in protest,” Master Qasim of Rehri vowed. He appealed to all the people living in the coastal areas to be united against such projects, which will create threats to their lives and livelihoods.

There are more than 300 islands, majority of the same are residential villages where communities have been residing through generations and contributing more to national exchequer by seafood production and taking risks of their lives.