Islamabad: Chairperson Climate Change Caucus, Senator Sherry Rehman, in a meeting on Wednesday expressed dissatisfaction over the lack of measures taken by the provinces at EPA offices to curb smog and issues related to it in Pakistan. She directed all provincial agencies to quantify data and provide the caucus with set timelines. Senator Rehman stressed that this is a critical issue that merited a response with the same seriousness, to protect the future of Pakistan’s children.
Chaired by Sherry Rehman, the meeting was attended by Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq, Senator Asad Ali Khan Junejo, Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi, Senator Usman Khan Kakar, Senator Nuzhat Sadiq, Senator Sajjad Hussain Turi, Senator Sassui Palijo, Senator Dr. Sikander Mandhro, Senator Keshu Bai, Senator Muhammad Ali Khan Saif and senior officers from the Ministry for Climate Change along with all concerned. Advisor to PM on Climate Change was also present.
Advisor to PM for Climate Change informed the Committee that according to a World Bank report that details the economic cost of environmental degradation from 2006 to 2016, it was revealed that environmental degradation cost has gone up from 3 percent to 9 percent. He added that half of that 9 percent can be attributed to air pollution.
He asserted that in addition to other factors, lack of funds and human resource have become major challenges, since without these, monitoring of enterprises and industries contributing to environmental pollution cannot be conducted effectively. Besides this, smog from across the border that enters Pakistan’s territory with West winds is another major factor that has enhanced the problem in Pakistan. He stressed the need for setting up of more air monitoring systems to attain a fair calculation of the seriousness of the problem. The Committee was informed that a USD 30 million project of the World Bank in Punjab is in progress. This project, he added, focuses on both air and water pollution.
The Committee recommended that all provincial EPA offices must get together under its emblem and instead of reinventing the wheel, must emulate programs that have been successful previously. It stressed that the EPA must focus on implementation of recommendations from both local and international forums. It stressed that an “All Government” approach was imperative to success.
In order to control smog, the Committee also recommended that vehicular traffic on roads must be reduced by introducing mass commuting projects. It was also stressed that quality of fuel be improved. The concept of green balconies must also be adopted.
Chairperson Causus, Senator Rehman asserted that the dynamics of the problem are extremely elevated and cannot be ignored. She added that concrete measures must be taken to resolve this massive issue of national importance which must be managed locally. Senator Rehman, further recommended that members of the Caucus visit local EPA offices to closely monitor progress on the environmental front.