Danngi and Bhandar Islands are at high risk!

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Jokhio Jasarat Ilyas Sindhi
Previous months, an important issue was highlighted in the newspapers of the country, discussing the old and customized islands of Sindh known as Danngi and Bhandar. It twisted the crests and troughs of the international mass to accommodate the natural resources with reference to the industrial revolution of 19th century divesting the coastal nature of the vicinity. As per law, the islands are part of Sindh government but suddenly the federal government issued an ordinance with the signature of the President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, claiming the twin islands as legally properties of the government of Pakistan. In addition to this, it is evident fact that the islands are one of the parts of the Indus Delta, which are the protected sites under the declared ‘Ramsar Convention’, to which the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is also a signatory and important state declaring Indus valley water resources conflict resolution. As per an  ecological statement of one of the eminent ecologist named Rafi-ul-Haq; ‘all Ramsar sites throughout the global water territories are actually the wetlands of the international sites which are essential for the habitat of migratory birds and by developing a city on such site, shall indeed destroy the coastal ecosystem and affect the environment as well as Pakistan’s fishing industry. These islands, in the past were surrounded by the rich mangroves, the breeding grounds for marine life. The artificial changes to the Indus Delta that impacted the protective mangrove barrier would also expose the twin coast as well as it may provide unprotected shelter to its financial hub of Karachi from the cyclones and tsunamis. The economic importance of the both islands is very important to discuss. There are 3,349 hectares of dense Temer Forests that provide habitat and nursery for a wide variety of marine life, in addition to a wide variety of fish, prawns and crabs. Cutting down these forests for construction would mean that this marine life would leave here. According to the WWF, Pakistan earns $390 million annually from seafood exports. It may be recalled that 1800 species of fish are caught from the Pakistani sea out of which 350 species have a rich commercial value. There are also 25 species of prawns, four species of lobster, six species of crabs and 12 species of shells. The share of Pakistan’s agricultural sector in GDP is close to 22% of which 1% is in the fisheries sector. According to statistics, the amount of fish caught from the Pakistani sea is 6.5 million tons per year, while Sindh fishing industry employs an estimated 4 million people. There are 90 species of fish around these islands alone. The islands are rich in biodiversity, with 29 species of sea snakes, 29 species of plants and 50 species of birds. A 2008 survey found 160,000 winter migratory birds on the islands. In addition, the islands are home to some of the world’s rarest green turtles that travel millions of miles to lay their eggs on our shores. If this path is closed, the survival of these innocent creatures will be further endangered. The islands are part of the Indus Delta, a globally protected Ramsar site, and as a ratifier, Pakistan must protect the Indus Delta. In addition, Pakistan has signed the International Biological Protection Act, which requires the sustainable management of marine resources and the protection of these endangered species. Therefore it is need of time for the federal government of Pakistan to announce publicly that these twin islands are actually parts of Sindh and shall remain in Sindh forever