Due to the increasing global temperatures and the consequential threat of rising sea levels, Karachi stands out as one of the most vulnerable cities to the impacts of climate change.
One of the key factors contributing to climate change is greenhouse gas emissions. Although Pakistan contributes less than 1% to the global emissions of these gasses, it does rely heavily on fossil fuel-based power generation plants to meet its energy needs. These power plants are major emitters of greenhouse gasses.
Researchers across the world agree that the emission of these gasses was one of the most important factors behind last year’s unprecedented floods in Pakistan that displaced millions of people caused the deaths of several thousand and destroyed homes and hearths at a very large scale.
To reduce the threat of a similar disaster occurring again, the Karachi Metropolitan Council (KMC) under the administration of Barrister Murtaza Wahab made plans last year to power 47 parks in Karachi using clean energy from solar panels.
KMC spokesperson Ali Hassan Sajid, however, said that not a single park falling under the corporation’s jurisdiction has been solarised so far.
Only Jahangir Park, located next to Empress Market in the Saddar area, is powered by solar energy. The park was maintained by Sindh’s provincial government until just a week ago it was transferred to KMC.
Yasir Hussain, founder of Climate Action Centre, a civil society initiative in Karachi, was concerned about the slow pace of work on the KMC’s initiative to solarise the city’s parks.
“It is regrettable that the country’s largest city has only one solar park. It must expedite the solarisation of all its parks and public spaces,” he said.
Kidney Hill Park, located in the city’s district east, was perhaps the largest public space to be solarised under this initiative. The Kidney Hill is a beautiful and lush place covering an area of 62 acres.
Launched with a lot of fanfare, its solarisation was to be completed within a month. A year, however, has passed, and yet the work on it has only just started.
KMC’s Director General Parks and Horticulture JunaidUllah Khan said that the project was only nominally launched in October 2022 and that its actual inauguration took place “only 15 days ago”.
Now that the work on it has started, it will be completed “within a couple of months”, he added.
According to Khan, the park’s solarisation could have happened a year ago but the change in the KMC leadership caused it to be delayed.
“Murtaza Wahab was working as KMC’s administrator in October 2022 when the project was envisaged,” he said, adding that Wahab relinquished his post under a court order only to return to the top of KMC as the city’s mayor several months later.
“After becoming the mayor, he took steps to reinvigorate the project,” he said
Karachis Mayor’s Media Consultant Sikander Baloch said that the solar system is not only designed to fulfill the power needs of Kidney Hill Waterfall and Lights, which require around 50 kilowatts, but it will also generate an additional 50 kilowatts of electricity.
“The surplus 50 Kilowatt of electricity will be supplied to K Electric (KE) to fulfill the energy needs of other parks,” he added.
Baloch went on to say that the total cost of the solar project was estimated at Rs5 million. “Our intention is to recoup this investment upon the successful completion of the project.”