KARACHI - The coastal belt of the metropolis has became a heaven for the land grabbers as a big part of Hawks Bay and its adjacent areas have been occupied by them for the purpose of unauthorized plotting, TheNation learnt on Monday. According to details, the ministries concerned as well as the authorities have been failed to stop the land grabbers from their illegal activities who have so far cut thousands of tones of mangroves and also dumped the sea land for the purpose of launching plotting for housing schemes. The area people are shocked when they saw that in many parts of the coastal belt have been occupied by the mafias, yet more mangroves plants need to be planted there because the mangroves are to save the coastal belt from natural disasters like tsunami. A local social activist of Younus Abad Mohammad Akber told TheNation that the land grabbers had been continued their activities to occupy valued lands particularly in Sandspit road, Fisheries Goth, Yoususabad and other parts of the coastal line of the metropolitan. The area people said that the mafias have now started pouring sand into the sea for making residential plots while several housing schemes have already been started illegally by the land mafias. The people alleged the authorities concerned have turned a blind eye towards the decades old settling areas of the coastal areas by not providing them basic facilities including drinking water, health, education and others. And now they are facilitating such illegal housing schemes launched by land mafias, but the decades old localities are still waiting for the leases of their houses, they said. The area people as well as local NGOs, along with different political parties have complained time and again against lack of basic needs and the elements facilitating the mafias to grab the land but so far nothing come out of that. It is apathy, both on the part of the Federal government and the Sindh government who have turned a blind eye towards the destructive activities. It is to be noted that the previous and the incumbent governments, despite making tall claims, have not initiated any step to stop the illegal activities in such areas. On the other hand, the authorities as well as the local NGOs have received a huge amount of money from foreign donor agencies to save the endangered mangroves but have failed to chalk any tangible strategy in this regard. Hundred of thousands people in Karachi depend on the mangroves for their livelihood, and for villages surrounding the forests the mangroves provide food, fodder and fuel-wood. Mangrove forests also provide protection to the coastal areas from strong winds and ocean currents. Their vegetation also helps in reducing coastline erosion because the roots collect sediments that flow into the sea from the river. Over the past several years, the degradation of Pakistans mangroves has occurred at the rate of 6 percent per annum. As a result, only 16 percent of Pakistans mangroves are thought to be healthy. The most harmful environmental stress that the mangroves face today derives largely from human activity. The steady growth of a major industrial city within the vicinity, the untreated sewage and industrial discharge, increase in the demand for fuel-wood, overgrazing and over-exploitation of resources are just a few of the strains on the mangroves ecosystem. Pakistan is heavily dependent on these mangrove forests to maintain the ecological balance. For example, the mangrove leaf litter provides a major source of nutrients. The mangroves provide a diverse habitat for a complex and interdependent community of invertebrates, fish, birds, and reptiles and the primary productivity of these mangrove-covered deltaic areas are four to seven times those of coastal areas without mangroves.