Advocacy by Ulema can help counter climate change impact’
Karachi: Religious leaders can play a role in countering the effects of climate change by inculcating a sense of ethics in development in urban centres like Karachi.
This was said by members of the civil society on Thursday at the Karachi Press Club, where they gathered to discuss the role of religious leaders in offsetting the negative impact of climate change. Mehnaz Rehman of the Aurat Foundation referred to the thousands of heatwave-related deaths in the summer of 2015 and accused the “builders’ mafia” of saving building costs while constructing housing with low ceilings and no skylights or proper ventilation. The construction of such poorly built houses aggravated the heatwave since hot air could not escape from them, she said.
Rehman criticised the builders’ syndicates for chopping down mangroves for making room for apartment blocks, only for reaping a quick buck. “Similarly, the timber mafia is also very busy these days and their actions in upper parts of the country results in widespread flooding of large swathes of the country,” she said.
She called on the religious leaders to exhort the people not to make mad scrambles for wealth or its concentration. Parks, she said, were the lungs of a city but in Karachi the builders were busy using them for their money-minting activities. Archbishop Joseph Coutts of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Karachi said the effects of climate change were not impending but had attained the status of an emergency. He said Pakistan was among the top 10 countries of the world to have been adversely affected by climate change. This, he said, was the fallout of unchecked scientific advancement.
“We have dug thousands of feet underground to extract resources but in the process have polluted our atmosphere,” he said. Quoting Pope Francis, Archbishop Coutts said all mankind stemmed from one human family and had a common home, the Earth.
Allama Sadiq Raza Taqvi said Islam enjoined upon the people to keep their homes and environment clean. “We must also impart this message to our followers. The NGOs must take up the issue with the builders’ mafia in right earnest. We should also educate our children about the environmental impact of our actions,” he said.
Allama Abdul Majeed Naqshbandi repeated a saying of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) that one shouldn’t dump one’s own garbage in front of one’s neighbour’s house.
Ravi Davani lamented that while other countries of the world had banned polythene bags, they were still being used with impunity in Pakistan and their callous disposal resulted in the choking of sewers and drains, aggravating the pollution and spread of disease. Sardar Ramesh Singh, president of the Pakistan Sikh Council, said the council had been observing Sikh Environment Day in temples across Pakistan for the past four years.