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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Island project in trouble as Sindh declares Bundal as protected forest area

In today's Cabinet meeting, the Sindh government declared Bundal and Buddo islands as protected forests. Earlier, the Sindh Forest Department said the Ministry of Port and Shipping or the federal government has no lawful claim on these islands.

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Wednesday, the Sindh government officially declared the Bundal and Buddo Islands as protected forests. It made the decision during a cabinet meeting today.

Sindh’s Minister of Forest Department Taimur Talpur gave a briefing to the cabinet meeting. Important to note, the Sindh Forest Department (SFD) earlier sent a summary to Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, declaring the areas as protected forests.

SFD said that both islands are property of the Sindh forest department. It also said the Ministry of Port and Shipping or the federal government has no lawful claim on these islands. After this, the Sindh government declared the areas as protected forests.

The legal notice has been sent to the provincial government via the chief secretary from Port Qasim Authority in which the latter shared that both the islands fall under the ownership of the Sindh Forest Department.

“The Sindh government is changing the status of both the islands,” the notice read.

This ofcourse puts the government’s island project in trouble. The government on 31 August 2020 promulgated an ordinance to establish the Pakistan Islands Development Authority (PIDA) to develop and manage the islands in the internal and territorial waters of Pakistan.

However, the formation of PIDA did not sit well with the Sindh government and became a bone of contention. The Sindh cabinet unanimously rejected the presidential ordinance. Meanwhile, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto condemned the “illegal annexation” of Sindh’s islands.

Read more: Islands are part of Port Qasim Authority not Sindh’s provincial government: President Arif Alvi

Environmentalists also came out strongly on social media alleging that developing the islands would add to environmental degradation and damage fisheries and the mangroves.

Bundal Island project to boost Pakistan’s economy

Owing to the Sindh government’s tough stance, PM Khan often urges Sindh to keep political differences aside to reconsider and work together for the development of Karachi.

According to details, the Bundal Island project off the coast of Karachi will attract fifty billion US dollars investment. This will benefit the country’s overall economy. The project will increase Karachi’s revenue. It will also generate job opportunities for approximately one hundred and fifty thousand.

However, the Sindh government refuses to sway away from its firm stance on the island project. Furthermore, it has officially declared Bundal and Buddo areas protected forests.

Read more: Bundal island project to bring in US$50 billion investment to Pakistan: Ismail