KPT coal terminal poses serious threat to citizens: SHC told

KARACHI: Sindh High Court (SHC) was informed on Monday that Karachi Port Trust (KPT) was operating a coal handling terminal in Shireen Jinnah Colony without adhering to the environmental laws which not only constitute an environmental hazard but also pose serious threat to health of the workers and people living in the vicinity.

In response to the court directions, Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) director general submitted a report to the SHC’s division bench which had taken up a petition against Karachi Port Trust (KPT)’s coal handling facility.

Naeem Ahmed Mughal, Sepa director general submitted in the report that the whole process from unloading of the coal to its dumping and transportation to different industrial units involved serious environmental hazards. He added that during inspection, it was noted that the coal material which was found on the berth and jetty flowed into the port waters during washing or at the time of rainfall, causing marine pollution.

He said during the transportation of coal through heavy vehicles from the terminal to coal yard, covering distance between 3 and 4 kilometer, the coal dust is flown into the air due to open trucks causing air pollution throughout the route. “It is obvious that hundreds of people in this particular location could be affected from transpiatory, eye and other diseases due to the air pollution containing coal dust particles.”

He said coal dust was found in the house located in the dense populated area of Keamari and areas in close proximity to the terminal. The environmental issues relating to storage of coal were significantly adverse in nature as huge quantity was being stored at the coal yard.

“In view of the coal storage site and its handling in highly densely populated area in highly crude manner, the entire area seems an environmental disaster. The concentration of coal emissions at the site should be very high health impacts to the workers at site as well as public consideration in the vicinity.”

Moreover, Sepa’s director general said, KPT had not obtained the its approval for operating coal handling terminal in the area.

Earlier, the petitioners had submitted that due to coal terminal and its dumping, inhabitants of the area were facing the serious consequences of environmental effects which had resulted in raising number of respiratory diseases in the locality.

They said that averagely five ships carrying 35000 to 40000 tons of the coal are berthed every month and about 200000 tons of the coal is handled at the terminal.

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