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CSR a mission or a ritual?

Published on 2nd Feb, Edition 5, 2015


Many corporate entities boost that they do a lot under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) but the overall plight of industrial workers clearly suggest that a lot more needs to be done. It is also observed that many of the activities that the corporate should be performing as ‘duty’ as often clubbed under CSR. A little is being done to minimize emission of toxic gases and effluents. If a few entities are undertaking any measures to curb these two it should not be given the name of CSR, as it is part of their duty prescribed by the law.

In Pakistan the worst pollution is spread by thermal power plants as they burn furnace oil containing high sulphur, worst is the performance of power plants operating in the public sector. The level of apathy could be gauged from the fact that Kot Addu Power Plant (KAPCO) is designed to use either furnace oil containing low sulphur or natural gas. Contrary to the recommendations of plant suppliers the management is forced to use furnace oil containing high percentage of sulphur. This on one hand is ruining the plant and on the other hand causing acid rain that causes colossal damage to agriculture.
Collectively cement plants cause two types of pollution. These plants use coal as well as rubber scrap to save energy cost. Burning rubber is a recent phenomenon but cement plants have been running on coal for decades. It is observed that some of the plants are not really concerned about smoke resulting from coal burning. It is necessary to mention that at various forums smoke being emitted by cement plants is talked about but no one seems to be discussing even a bigger issue – dust spread by cement plants. In spreading dust cement plants are joined by stone crushing plants, mostly located in the close vicinity of residential areas. Various attempts to remove these plants located on both sides of Super Highway and have become a major cause of respiratory system malfunctioning.

Civic agencies can also be held responsible for indulging in serious social crimes as they burn all sorts of garbage in open. Often the garbage contains plastic and other materials when burnt emit highly toxic gases. Burning garbage is common sign in Karachi. There is a need to make specific mention of garbage burning round the clock in the section of Mahmoodabad located adjacent to Korangi Expressway.
In an attempt to misappropriate billions of rupees civic authorities divert sewerage water to farms located within the municipal limit or in the suburbs. While not much data is available on adverse impact of sewerage water on other vegetables, the research shows use of such water develops a specific toxin in chilies. The issue may not have hit the headlines, had many of the export shipment not confiscated in the developed countries. Ironically, chilies grown on sewerage are openly is big cities and even in Karachi.


Garbage originating from hospitals is also being burnt in open. The local laws make stipulate brining hospital waste only through incinerators. However, it has been notices that the biggest hospital operating in public as well as private sector have installed incinerators. The biggest disadvantage of dumping hospital waste in open is that garbage collectors pick up syringes and I.V. bags and other accessories which are used as plastic waste in the production of many plastic items.

Mentioning Korangi also reminds of it Sector-VII, where most of the tanneries are located. It is known to all and sundry that dyes used in leather tanning contain highly toxic chemicals that should not be discharged in rain drains linked to sea. However, due to complete negligence of Sindh Environmental Authority such effluent is being dumped into the sea. Even bigger disappointment is the presence of heaps of garbage and over flowing sewerage water right in front of the office of the Authority.

It is necessary to mention that that many of the diseases have become area specific in Pakistan because of presence of certain types of manufacturing units. The fact is that most of these diseases are spreading due to the negligence of civic authorities but more importantly due the lack f awareness among the masses. Though, a few consumer protection associations operate in the country, most of these platforms are being for self projection rather than undertaking initiatives that can free masses from various types of ailments.

Environmental protection agencies often pay no attention towards textiles, tanneries, paint and chemical industries and auto assemblers. These groups pressurize the government that if they start following rules in letter and spirit they would not be able to compete in the global markets. However, the local policy makers and policy planners tend to forget the real impacts of such oversights on the local population. The government may succeed in earning extra foreign exchange and a few entrepreneurs may get richer but future generations are being exposed to severe threats.


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