Tag Archives: environment

If I was a river…


This is the poem I almost read at this year’s SAARC Literature Festival in Lucknow, India. In the end I didn’t read it after all but ended up passing it around to others who wanted to read it. It has been a wonderful experience to recieve much praise for my spontaneous flow of emotion in verse. Since then, many have been repeatedly asking me to post it on my site. Finally I’m giving in… Read, enjoy and don’t forget to give me your feedback. 🙂

If I was a river

in the broken sands of time

I’d cut my way to the mountain top

and not flow to the sea.

But that’s just wishful thinking,

For a river i’d be

and must flow

where the plains take me

down, down to the cliff edge

merge me in with the rest

of the droplets impure.

Salt faces of white,

You think I cannot recognize

your cavernous deep

where none penetrates

and past secrets keep.

If I was a river,

I’d embrace all the stones

with softness of purpose

hewing, pinning, grating

sharpness to mould

and never give in.

Shine on in the mud

with decorations of my own,

fashioned patiently, flaunted last

in the beaming sunlight

when misty curtains pull back

with many a tragic sigh.

I’d rear my head

And rush to the fore

To kiss the hem of the rising –

the guardian banks ashore.

If  I was a river,

wild I would be

to see the seasons change

And let things be

joyful, sudden and free

between the sky and the earth.

Limitless, boundless,

leaping, I’d dance

letting leaf veils slip,

struck with glee.

But I am not a river,

and though the stones hit me hard

they stay unmoulded.

Like the river I’m bound

for destinations unfound

between the earth and the sky

a mist I descry

haunting my magical moments

it lets me twist but not away

sways in to lead astray

and I am not a river

to fix a path and go on my way.

KETI BUNDER – TOWARDS EXTINCTION?


Keti Bunder is a small port town and fishing harbour situated 90 km (55 miles) east of Karachi. It lies at the confluence of the Hajamro and Tursian creeks at a distance of 7  km (4 miles) from the Arabian sea.

The estuary region mangrove skyline

Its significance lies chiefly in its geographical bearings which place it in a position suitable for use as an important port for Pakistan if properly developed.

In 1864 A.D., Keti Bunder was closed due to the closure of the branch of Indus on which it was located. History threatens repetition and Keti Bunder may soon become a name of  the past – its Fate being similar to Lari Bunder close to Thatta and Kharakbandar on the confluence of the Habb river and Arabian Sea, both of which were choked with silt during the early 18th century. Navigation may soon become difficult if not downright impossible, endangering the livelihood of the fishermen, who have already been forced to move thrice as the Arabian sea encroaches and the Indus River slowly and surely changes course.

Ecologically, the site holds its own. The wetlands of Keti Bunder North and Keti Bunder South with areas of 8948 ha and 23046 ha respectively, rank amongst important  protected areas according to the Sindh Wildlife Department.

However, to date, the area has mostly met with neglect by both internal and external  sources:

  • The Keti Bunder Project agreement between a Hong Kong based company and the  government was scrapped on June 24, 1997, just 2 years after its initiation, after a cost-benefit analysis by Pakistani officials and lack of physical development by the foreigners. If completed as planned, in 2001, the project would have included a 5280 MW electric plant, a port complex, an industrial zone between Thatta and Jamshoro and jobs for an estimated 7000 people.
  • The locals of Keti Bunder suffer in silence while ecological destruction continues  and natural disasters such as droughts and more recently, floods. In November  1993, a cyclone hitting the coast, created havoc in the area due to the absence of mangroves, while nearby Shah Bunder was saved by its mangrove forest.
  • Public services are scarce. The Rural Health Centre lies in a state of half hearted  maintenance having no doctors or lady health visitors.
  • Literacy figures are low – only 21% males and 3% females are literate.

NGOs and public welfare organizations provide some hope:

  •  The World Bank IDA funded Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) with Aga Khan Planning and Building Services is working to provide access to clean drinking water by water filtration, is installing household latrines and thanks to its  services, many village roads are now paved.
  • WWF Pakistan’s coastal project aims to achieve sustainable use of the ecosystem on which the livelihood of the people depends.

Much more needs to be done for the area and the people, especially from an environmental point of view to keep it inhabitable. Mangroves have almost disappeared and the once lush rice fields are legends already. If the ecosystem is improperly cared for,  it will mutilate this limb of the Indus and have widespread repercussions on the surrounding area in years to come.