Will ensure energy projects not damage environment

Will ensure energy projects not damage environment

KARACHI: The Sindh Government has been actively working to ensure that whatsoever development project is carried out in the province for energy security of the country including the upcoming North South Gas Pipeline should not damage the environment, says a Press release.

The assurance to this effect was given by Sindh Environment Minister Muhammad Taimur Talpur while speaking as the chief guest on Tuesday at the scoping meeting on Environmental & Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) Study of the proposed 800 kilometres-long North South Gas Pipeline project.

The proposed gas pipeline will be constructed in next two years from Nawabshah to Nankana Sahib to supply up to 1200 MMSCFD (million standard cubic feet per day) of Re-gasified Liquefied Natural Gas to North of the country. The proposed pipeline will be connected to Gwadar-Nawabshah LNG terminal and pipeline project to be built to import 0.6 billion cubic feet per day RLNG to the country.

“I’m here to assure you that the Sindh government will fully support projects like the North South Gas Pipeline for energy security of the country but at the same time we will ensure that no compromise will be done on our environment,” said Talpur on the occasion.

“This is exactly for what we are here for while doing our work at the Provincial Environment Department and Sindh Environmental Protection Agency and in this instance we will ensure it by maintaining utmost transparency in construction of the project,” he said.

He said that executioners of the upcoming gas pipeline project was under strict obligation to make sure that no tree was cut during its construction phase and if in case such an act became inevitable then for every fallen tree along the route of pipeline, they should plant 20 trees as a substitute.

He said that Sindh government had been fully adhering to the cause that the environment and natural habitats in the province should be completely protected and conserved as for this cause; it had been implementing projects of wind and solar energy for promotion of clean resources of power generation.

He said that projects like North South Gas Pipeline had to be built in the country for transmission of imported RLNG to all areas of the country given that indigenous resources of natural gas in the country were fast depleting. “By the year 2030 volume of our natural gas consumption is expected to increase to 8 to 10 MMSCFD, which at present stands at 3.8 MMSCFD,” said the provincial Environment minister.

“Sindh and rest of Pakistan will sure make progress once we fully adhere to the cause of environment,” he said.

Also speaking on the occasion, Additional Director General of Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) Naeem Ahmed Mughal said that ESIA study of the development projects like North South Gas Pipeline were conducted as a tool to ensure sustainable development of the area in surroundings of the project that would also benefit the local population.

He said that while projects like the proposed gas pipeline were essential for progress of economy of the country but at the same time the SEPA would make sure that their execution should not create any adverse impact on natural resources of the area.

Briefing about the project, Saquib Ejaz Hussain of EMC Pakistan-the agency responsible to conduct the study-said that ESIA of the proposed gas pipeline was being conducted as a bankable study for financing of the project by international financing agencies from where $ 02 billion cost of the project would be arranged.

He said the initial feasibility of the project had ascertained that 67 different communities inhabited all across the proposed 800 km-long route of the project but pipeline would be built using such a carefully chosen passage that it should not cause resettlement of human population.

He said that tree cutting all along the proposed passage of gas pipeline project would be avoided to the maximum possible extent whereas extensive efforts would be made to conserve natural resources including water reservoirs and natural habitats all along the area in surroundings of the pipeline.

He said that ESIA study would be conducted by a team of 150 people to ensure that socio-economic benefits of the project were translated to the local communities living all across route of the pipeline as for this cause initiatives related to Corporate Social Responsibility would also be conducted.

He said that ESIA study was being conducted as a legal requirement for doing such energy projects as given in the Sindh Environmental Protection Act-2014 while report containing findings of the study would be submitted to the provincial environmental watchdogs of Sindh and Punjab from where pipeline will pass through.

Shamsul Haq Memon, former Sindh Environment Secretary, hoped that projects like North South Gas pipeline would be helpful in mitigating persisting energy crisis of Pakistan.

Syed Nadeem Arif, Managing Director of EMC Pakistan, said that proposed ESIA study of the gas pipeline project would fully conform to the international environmental standards being observed by global funding agencies like World Bank and IFC to get financing support from them.

He said that ESIA study would be submitted to the provincial environmental watchdogs by next year while the project was likely to be commissioned in the year 2020.

Sergeev Oleg, deputy project Director of RT Global Resources-the Russian firm tasked to build the pipeline project, assured audience of the meeting that construction phase of the pipeline would be carried out in a much careful manner that it should fully conform to national and international environmental obligations.

Asif Shuja Khan, former DG of Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency, hoped that the consultative sessions like the present scoping meeting would help executioners of the project to have valuable feedback from the concerned stakeholders so to ensure that pipeline would be built with least damage to environment and livelihoods of local communities.

Earlier, Lahore High Court (LHC) had turned down PAT plea seeking summons of ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif, former Chief Minister of Punjab (CM) Shehbaz Sharif and ten other ministers in the case.

PAT, in its appeal against the ruling of the trial court, had requested LHC to call former ministers Khawaja Saad Rafique, Rana Sanaullah, Khawaja Asif and others in the case.

Police sources had revealed that former Punjab law minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Rana Sanaullah was the mastermind of the carnage. Sanaullah had directed to launch operation against the Model Town protesters despite then home secretary Azam Suleman’s opposition, they added.

On June 17, 2014, Punjab police went to remove the barriers placed outside PAT Chief Dr Tahirul Qadri’s residence and MQI Secretariat in Model Town. The MQI workers resisted the move which led to a deadly clash leaving 14 workers dead and dozens injured. – NNI