LAHORE: The Coronavirus has taught us a lesson that we cannot play with the Mother Nature. It has also given us a grave warning to stop pushing the limits of the environment along with providing us with an opportunity to see what difference we can make by just doing small actions to reduce pollution. This was stated by the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam Khan during his visit to the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).
President LCCI Mian Tariq Misbah, Senior Vice President Nasir Hameed Khan, Former President Sohail Lashari, LCCI Executive Committee Member Sajjad Afzal, Uzma Shahid, Shahid Nazir, Malik Riaz Iqbal and Saleem Asghar Bhatti were also present on the occasion.
Amin Aslam Khan said that the government has announced Green Stimulus Initiative. The purpose of the initiative is to begin green recovery, adding that only Lahore City has lost its 70 percent forest cover in last 15 years and this is the biggest reason of the increased Smog in the city. He said 40 percent of the Smog is due to the transport and to counter the issue we are now proving euro 5 fuel instead of euro 2.
“10 billion tree tsunami is creating jobs; it’s not like that we are planting only trees, we are also developing green economy, in KPK, green economy has created half a million jobs and is now self-sustaining, these jobs are generally related to nurseries established to promote greenery and check wildfires in forest areas during the peak summer” said the PM Advisor. He said the Urban Forestry is very important, in order to expand the forest cover in the cities, we have identified hundred places in Lahore where small forests can be developed, adding that the main purpose of the initiative is to develop and protect national parks.
He said we have announced many national parks around the country and a 3500 hundred acres national park is established very near to Lahore at Balloki. He said that government is going to start a National Park Service to promote eco-tourism.
The Advisor said that the Littering Law is already in the Senate for approval, adding that we have established 35 indicators for environment compliance, the DC and later the Nazim will evaluate the performance of the particular industry/area and we are also linking the ACR with the performance evaluation and the UN Habitat is monitoring the process as third party evaluator. The industry which is performing well will be rewarded and the others will be fined, the advisor added. Amin Aslam said that the Electric Vehicle (EV) policy has been approved to tackle effects of climate change and offer affordable transport.
President LCCI Mian Tariq Misbah said that the Environment Ministry has the responsibility of developing and providing a national environmental management system, including laws, regulations, national policy statements and national environmental standards in relation to climate changes.
“We as a responsible nation, have to respond wisely because Pakistan has been declared as a high -isk country under various climate change scenarios”, said Mian Tariq Misbah adding that according to the recent report of The Global Climate Risk Index, Pakistan is ranked at fifth place among the countries most affected by climate change from 1999 to 2018. As per this report, Pakistan suffered a loss of 3.8 Billion Dollars per annum in this period due to climate change besides a heavy loss of lives.
He said the rising temperatures, deforestation, land degradation and water scarcity are the major reasons for climate change in the country which are also having an adverse impact on agriculture and food security in Pakistan.
President LCCI urged the Environment Ministry to play its role in redefining the agro-climatic areas due to climate changes as it is imperative for increasing per acre yield. For that matter, the government should invest in research for the development of weather resistant varieties of seeds and crops.
He appreciated the government for taking bold steps to meet climate change challenges. The billion tree program of Pakistan will certainly play an important role to overcome the adverse impacts of climate change, he said.
He further said that the LCCI members are constantly complaining against the notices being served to them by the Environment Department Government of Punjab. They are very concerned about the unduly strict standpoint taken by the concerned officials who straight away seal their industrial units.
He said where there are violators; they should first be given warning in writing as well as some time to show compliance to environment laws. Our members are approaching us with a lot of concern that Environment Protection Department (EPD) Government of Punjab Personnel are sealing their factories despite the fact that they have installed Effluent Treatment Plant and Air Pollution Control System in the form of dry scrubber-bag house.
He also highlighted the issue of Kasur small industrial estate where some companies are doing open burning of pharmaceutical waste and polluting the whole area including nearby villages which is very dangerous to human health.
LCCI Senior Vice President Nasir Hameed Khan said that the stubble burning is yet to be resolved; secondly, he said the government is not providing natural gas to the industry due to which the industry uses other means of energy including coal and fuels which are to some extent hazardous to the environment. He said instead of imposing fines on the industry, government should provide them with gas.