Total Posts: 1287
United Kingdom, United Kingdom
It goes without saying that Karachi is one of the most polluted and chaotic cities in the world.
With the booming population,
estimated to be 13 million, the number of vehicles mainly unfit has also
increased. These vehicles release hundreds of tons of poisonous gases into
the atmosphere. The situation is so grave that it is now almost next to
impossible to take a breath of fresh and healthy air in this city. According
to a UN report, Karachi is one of the 10 most polluted mega-cities.
Pollution by one or several gases exceeds WHO guidelines by 100 per cent.
Levels of smoke and dust, major cause of respiratory diseases, are generally
twice the world average and more than five times as high as in industrial
countries. Many people suffering from problems such as sinus, bronchitis,
eye allergy and asthma are victims of air pollution.
There are many sources of air pollution, but the one that has affected us
most is a defective vehicle, particularly those with two-stroke engines and
four-wheel buses, which contribute to more than 50 per cent of total
pollution. These vehicles produce excessive carbon monoxide and lead, two of
the many pollutants, which are released into the atmosphere. The percentage
of lead in gasoline is also very high, which aggravates the situation. It
will not be wrong to say that Karachiites are virtually inhaling poison. The
following are the different category and number of vehicles that had been
registered by the motor registration wing of the excise and taxation office
till June 31, 1999: Motorcars, jeeps, wagons, 453,545; motorcycles with
three wheels, 26,879; motorcycles with two wheels, 376,996; buses,
minibuses, 15,906; taxis, 39,907; trucks, 17,708. All these vehicles play
their role in polluting the environment, specially those that are not in
proper condition. The areas where air pollution caused by vehicular exhaust
is higher during rush hours are Empress Market, Boulton Market, Burnes Road,
Lasbella Bridge, Shahrah-i-Quaideen, I.I.Chundrigar Road, M.A.Jinnah Road,
Experts say that if defective vehicles are banned or fitness certificate
rules are effectively enforced, air pollution can be controlled by at least
50 per cent. Also, rickshaw and bus drivers should be severely punished for
using adulterated oil. Those selling such oil should also be brought to
book. This practice has been going on for long and the administration has
miserably failed to stop it. In 1999, the Sindh Environmental Protection
Agency had launched a campaign against unfit vehicles plying on roads and
adding to pollution. The campaign did not meet much success, as is evident.
Anti-pollution campaigns should be launched every year to control air
Noise pollution is another nuisance. A survey conducted by the Urban
Resource Centre found that in Karachi and Lahore the level of noise
pollution is higher than tolerable. According to experts, the endurable
limit is 85 decibels, whereas in some parts of Karachi and Lahore it has
been measured much above this, even up to 104 decibels. Constant exposure to
high-pitched noise on people have shown that most of them suffer from
impaired hearing, get easily irritated, besides running the risk of serious
psychological disorders. According to law, the maximum penalty for using
pressure horn is Rs100. This is not enough. Removal of rickshaw silencers
and use of pressure horns should be banned. Apart from pollution, the other
serious issue is the lack of traffic sense among motorists and gross
violations of traffic rules by careless drivers. They not only include the
uneducated truck, taxi or rickshaw drivers, but also those belonging to the
so-called sophisticated strata of society.
The Traffic Engineering Bureau's accident study for the year 1998 says that
there were 1,119 road accidents in Karachi. This included 585 (52.2pc) fatal
accidents resulting in 1,487 casualties, including 624 (41.9pc) deaths, and
863 (58pc) injuries. Compared to the previous year's record, fatal accidents
had increased by 14 (2.4pc). After 1998 the TEB reportedly did not conduct
any accident study for the following years. The main reason for fatal
accidents of such magnitude is the attitude of indifference that has now
become a part of our thinking. In a majority of road accidents people are
killed or sustain serious injuries owing to reckless driving. It just
requires a few minutes on any major thoroughfare to witness a hell on
wheels. Still, no radar or camera are installed on major intersections or
highways to check the speed of vehicles and traffic violations.
How do careless drivers manage to get driving licences is an open secret.
Some don't even possess one. What makes the matter worse is the violation of
rules by the enforcers themselves. The newly-formed Shahbaz Force did just
that when it violated the one-way on the day it was introduced. Reportedly
the convoy was escorted by two DSPs. This reminds one of a man who had said:
"If you are driving in Pakistan keep in mind that only you can see and
Implementation of traffic rules is the reason behind disciplined drivers in
developed countries. All the western countries have one common traffic law:
the through traffic has the right of way. Also, if someone does not pass the
driving written and practical test, he won't be issued a licence. One can
get a citation for not wearing the seatbelt or crossing the speed limit.
Anyone found jump a red light would be arrested. As for us, the fault lies
not in traffic laws but its implementation. The laws are there, although
some need to be made tough, but how many of us abide by them. Whether it be
a ticket system or any other, only effective implementation of laws can help
check traffic violations. How will the government move towards this
direction need to be seen.