KARACHI - All three ports of Pakistan including Karachi Port, Port Qasim and Gwadar Port are still at level A of Oil Pollution Response Casualty (OPRC) Convention 1990, and have not yet attained level B owing to the nonchalant attitude of the Ministry of Ports and Shipping, The Nation has learnt. It is interesting that Ministry does not pay heed on approaching International Maritime Organisation (IMO) for acquiring Level B training and equipment despite the fact that some 80 percent of oil is transported to the rest of the world via Persian Gulf and most of those oil carrying vessels pass through the Exclusive Economic Zone of Pakistan posing a continuous threat as oil spillage in this zone could be disastrous. As per details, Pakistan has become signatory to OPRC-90 in level 'A in 2004 which binds signatory nations to maintain oil spill contingency plan whose activation rests completely with the Director General Ports and Shipping. It is ironic that besides 3 Oil Piers at Karachi Port, no other public and private terminal in the country submit their annual OPRC compliant report to the Ministry, and it is also in question whether they are OPRC compliant or not under the MARPOL Convention 73/78. Recently the Director General of the Ministry Afzal Hyder in a meeting said that KPT is looking after the matter and we have fined some oil terminals in this regard, but the interesting fact is that fine is not allowed under the convention. Being a signatory to the convention Pakistan should have gone to level B and annual audit must be conducted by a qualified staff, as training of such level is also mandatory for the staff of ports and terminals. The marine experts say the Ministry is solely responsible for such ignorance and lack of knowledge, because IMOs free funds in this regard are being utilised by Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, as most of the neighbouring countries of Pakistan have acquired the level B of the convention. It is pertinent to mention that with the assistance of International Maritime Organisation (IMO) a training course was arranged in Karachi in 2001, in which more than 60 people were trained. The pollution control authorities in Pakistan are DG Ports and Shipping, Pollution Control Departments of the 3 ports in their respective areas of jurisdiction, environment protection agencies of Sindh and Balochistan within 12 nautical miles of coastlines, except port and Maritime Security Agency from 12 nm to 200 nm in Exclusive Economic Zone. The pollution control equipments held by PQA are aqua guard harbour flex permanent boom, wharf face anchors, deployment anchors, aqua guard air floatable rapid deployment boom, boom reels, hydraulic power pack, air inflation unit, skimmer skim pack 1800 and 4200 mps, auxiliary transfer pump, trash pump, tank for recovered oil, hot water pressure washer spray cleaning unit, inflatable floating tank, oil spill dispersal detergent oil spars and oil absorbent sheets. It is pertinent to mention that Level A is the oil spill status/situation in which the Agency (port, provincial organization and institution) in whose jurisdiction oil spill has occurred considers its resources/ capability to be competent enough to respond to the oil spill without activation of National Oil Spill Contingency Plan of Pakistan.