NEWS COVERAGE PERIOD FROM FEB 24 TO MAR 01, 2020
CHIEF MINISTER LAUNCHES DRIVE TO RESTORE KUNDIAN FOREST
From the Newspaper February 24, 2020
LAHORE: Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has said bringing a “green revolution” in Pakistan was the flagship programme of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government, adding that the Clean & Green Pakistan Programme launched by the prime minister last year was being successfully run.
He was addressing a ceremony held under a sapling planting campaign aimed at restoration of forests in Kundian area of Mianwali, a handout issued on Sunday said.
Addressing the campaign launching ceremony in Saraiki language, Buzdar said 50 crore saplings would be planted at a cost of Rs26 billion in the next four years.
He said a clean and green environment was not only necessary for the present, but also for the future generations as well.
He said the target of planting 100 million saplings had been set for Punjab during the current year.
He said the Kundian forests stretched over an area of 20,000 acres, while 4 million saplings would be planted on 5,500 acres in the next four years.
He said that restoration of Kundian forests would protect the area and its wildlife from the impact of climate change, besides creating jobs.
He said the Punjab government had started Municipal Services Programme at a cost of Rs24 billion and under it the elected representatives had started providing different services to the people in their respective areas.
He said the porblems being faced by the people of Mianwali were being solved on priority basis.
The chief minister launched the campaign by planting a sapling of Palkan tree, while around 1,200 student of various schools also planted the saplings during the ceremony.
Forests Minister Sibtain Khan, addressing the ceremony, said his department had so far planted 2.6 million saplings in the province and on Sunday 0.35m more saplings were being planted.
He claimed 150,000 people would get jobs in the current year, whereas job opportunities for 0.5m others would be created in the next four years. He said the fine for the wood theft had been increased five times to check the illegal practice.
Meanwhile, Mr Buzdar has said Prime Minister Imran Khan has exposed “big personalities” who were involved in massive corruption.
In a statement issued on Sunday, he said the virus of corruption committed by previous governments had weakened the roots of Pakistan.
He added that the opposition parties had no other agenda but saving their corruption.
He said the PTI government had been given five-year mandate by the people and it would come up to their expectations and complete its tenure.
The chief minister will lay the foundation stone of Mother & Child Hospital Project in Sir Ganga Ram Hospital today (Monday).
The 600-bed hospital will be set up at a cost of Rs7 billion, while Rs4 billion will be spent on the construction of its 10-storey building. The remaining amount will be used for procurement of medical equipment and machinery for the hospital that will provide modern healthcare facilities for the mothers and the newborns.
It will have 13 operation theatres and a modern emergency ward.
Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2020
7,000 SAPLINGS PLANTED UNDER CLEAN GREEN PAKISTAN DRIVE
A Correspondent February 24, 2020
SARGODHA: Around 7,000 saplings were planted here on Sunday by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and government employees under the 10-billion-tree tsunami programme.
The district administration observed ‘one-tree for Pakistan’ day to make Pakistan clean and green. The main ceremony was held on the road from Chak 85-NB to 90-NB chaired by Deputy Commissioner (DC) Abdullah Nayyar Sheikh. Various NGOs, students, trade organisations and people from all walks of life planted 2,000 saplings along the road.
The DC said that all arrangements had been made by government nurseries to provide 3.5 million saplings to the public for free and 1,000 acres earmarked for forestation in the district. He also said that stern action will be taken against timber mafia to control felling of trees.
Moreover, the employees of all government and semi-government departments planted 5,000 saplings at eight points in the district.
The DC said arrangements were under way to plant saplings on vacant state land and free spaces of government schools and colleges to grow vegetables to provide fresh eatables to children.
Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2020
NEHR-E-KHAYAM PARK: SINDH GOVERNMENT, PANI INITIATE TREE PLANTATION DRIVE
By RECORDER REPORT on February 24, 2020
Sindh Government and People & Nature Initiative (PANI), an NGO, initiated a tree plantation drive to inaugurate the development of Nehr-e-Khayam Park here on Sunday. To inaugurate the occasion, a tree plantation drive was conducted with the students of the Karachi Grammar School and nearby residents and communities.
The plantation drive began with the Minister Local Government Syed Nasir Shah followed by Advisor to CM Barrister Murtaza Wahab and Mayor Waseem Akhter who graced the occasion with their presence and assured their full support to PANI for the successful realisation of reclaiming public space with an environmentally clean & friendly park for the people of Karachi.
The provincial government and PANI signed an agreement earlier this month to start the development work of the Nehr-e-Khayam Park, area adjacent to the Karachi Grammar School, Clifton which has been an environmental threat and a menace for residents living in the area for over 25 years.
This is indeed an exemplary partnership between the public and private sector with good intent for the welfare of the people of Karachi & later to be a model for other provinces to replicate.
The project is to clean the sewage water flowing into the canal through the indigenous sustainable ‘reed bed’ technology and plant hundreds of trees, bushes and create jogging tracks, viewing decks accessible to the public as a recreational facility.
The youth of Karachi, students from KGS helped kick off the initiative by planting trees under the leadership of the Chief Minister, Sindh encouraging other stakeholders who are endorsing this activity with their time and expertise.
Speaking at the occasion, Jameel Yusuf President of PANI said, “I am very grateful to the chief minister & his team for being present here today & conveying their support for not only this initiative but many others which would help in improving the environment, health & educational needs of the people of this province. Renowned architects Akeel Bilgrami & Shahid Abdulla shared their vision for the project which would be game changer in the management of sewerages & recycling of the water to fulfil the needs of the residents in the near future. Mayor Waseem Akhtar, Adviser Murtaza Wahab & Minister LG Shah sahib offered their support to restore Karachi a city of lights to its old grandeur. I am looking forward to the day this recreational facility will be open to the general public.”
Copyright Business Recorder, 2020
SPRING TREE PLANTATION CAMPAIGN KICKS OFF
By RECORDER REPORT on February 24, 2020
On “Plant for Pakistan Day”, Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Ali and parliamentarians Sh Khurram Shahzad and Shakil Shahid inaugurated the spring tree plantation campaign by plant a sapling at Chak no 155 Rb Panwa village at Canal Express Way.
More than 2000 plants were planted on this occasion by large number of students and representatives of civil society. DG PHA Asif Chaudhry, Assistant Commissioners Umar Maqbool, Imtaiz Baig, CEO Health and Education Dr Mushtaq Sipra, Ali Ahmad Siyan, Divisional Forest Officer Anwar ur Haq, Forest Officer Amjad Saeed and other officers also planted saplings.
Expressing his views, the Deputy Commissioner said that Plant for Pakistan movement was an important revolutionary step of present government for environmental projection which would be made successful by adopting coordinated strategy. He urged that every citizen should plant a sapling of his share to participate in this national task of tree plantation. He said that the goal of green Pakistan could only be achieved through good intention, struggle and passion for which strong commitment of the citizens is required.
He asked the Forest department officers to launch a wide awareness campaign to motivate the citizens for participating in tree plantation and complete technical guidance should also be provided to them for looking after the saplings planted during the campaign.
He motivated the PHA, Education and other departments for making arrangements to plant maximum saplings of different species. Addressing the students, the Deputy Commissioner said that they were sons of the nation and their role in national development was very important so they should also contribute in tree plantation.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2020
‘FOREST COVER MUST FOR SURVIVAL OF WILDLIFE IN CHITRAL’
By Our Correspondent Published: February 24, 2020
CHITRAL: The Chitral district forest office on Sunday launched tree plantation drive under the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami project and distributed saplings among people.
The saplings were handed over to people at a ceremony held at a nursery in Singor area of the district. On the occasion, the district forest department also provided free saplings to the Snow Leopard Foundation (SLF).
The officials of Snow Leopard Foundation will dispatch these plants to upper areas of Chitral and distribute among the community members for plantation. The SLF will bear expenses of transportation and training to local community about the plantation campaign.
The plantation drive will be carried out in Torkhao and Molkhao areas to address the issue of deforestation, shortage of wood and overcome the challenge of climate change.
Speaking on the occasion, the SLF representative Shafiqullah Khan said that besides snow leopard, forest cover was necessary for all wildlife. “Snow leopards and the rest of wildlife will survive if forests survive. The survival of wildlife is linked to survival of forests,” he said.
Addressing the ceremony, the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Shaukat Fayyaz said the shortage of forests could be overcome by implementation of ‘one person one plant’ formula. He said the situation could improve drastically if every person plants at least one tree.
He said growing more trees was the only answer to reduce the impact of climate change. The SLF representative lauded the Chitral forest department for growing more trees in the district.
He vowed to involve community in planting maximum trees in Chitral and make the district a role model for others to follow.
He said deforestation in Chitral has damaged the environment and wildlife also suffered. Plantation of maximum trees was the only solution to environmental issues.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 24th, 2020.
SCIENTISTS GATHER TO STUDY RISK FROM MICROPLASTIC POLLUTION
AP February 25, 2020Facebook Count
PORTLAND: Tiny bits of broken-down plastic smaller than a fraction of a grain of rice are turning up everywhere in oceans, from the water to the guts of fish and the poop of sea otters and giant killer whales.
Yet little is known about the effects of these “microplastics” on sea creatures or humans.
Its such a huge endeavour to know how bad it is, said Shawn Larson, curator of conservation research at the Seattle Aquarium. “We’re just starting to get a finger on the pulse.”
This week, a group of five-dozen microplastics researchers from major universities, government agencies, tribes, aquariums, environmental groups and even water sanitation districts across the US West is gathering in Bremerton, Washington, to tackle the issue. The goal is to create a mathematical risk assessment for microplastic pollution in the region similar to predictions used to game out responses to major natural disasters such as earthquakes.
The largest of these plastic bits are 5 millimeters long, roughly the size of a kernel of corn, and many are much smaller and invisible to the naked eye.
They enter the environment in many ways. Some slough off of car tires and wash into streams and eventually the ocean during rainstorms. Others detach from fleeces and spandex clothing in washing machines and are mixed in with the soiled water that drains from the machine. Some come from abandoned fishing gear, and still more are the result of the eventual breakdown of the millions of straws, cups, water bottles, plastic bags and other single-use plastics thrown out each day.
Research into their potential impact on everything from tiny single-celled organisms to larger mammals like sea otters is just getting underway.
Published in Dawn, February 25th, 2020
PROTECTION OF WETLANDS STRESSED TO AVOID BIODIVERSITY LOSS
By Our Correspondent Published: February 25, 2020
PESHAWAR: Wetlands biodiversity are under threat in the country and conservation measures in this regard need to be taken on a priority basis.
This was stressed by speakers during a seminar held to mark the World Wetlands Day at the University of Peshawar (UoP). The Environment Society of the UoP had organised the awareness session at the Department of Environmental Sciences.
The main theme this year is ‘Wetlands and Biodiversity’ as approved by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. The purpose of the seminar was to create awareness amongst the students and encourage conservation measures for wetlands in the country which need to be done on a priority basis to combat the climate change impacts and avoid biodiversity loss.
Speaking on the occasion, organiser of the Environment Society Dr Asif Khan Khattak said “Wetlands are important ecosystems and their biodiversity are under threat in Pakistan”.
Khattak said “Wetlands conservation also contributes to achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of climate action, life below water, and life on land”.
Department of Environmental Sciences Professor Dr Muhammad Nafees said: “Wetlands associated with Kabul River in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) are shrinking because they are being transformed into agricultural land, and this is leading to biodiversity loss.”
Nafees said pollution was one of the important factors that had been damaging the ecosystems.
Dr Hizbullah Khan, another professor at the UoP’s Environmental Sciences Department said environmental chemistry of wetlands was changing and this was affecting biodiversity at large scales. “Eutrophication in wetlands is an emerging problem that needs to be addressed,” he added.
The speakers said according to the convention a total of 19 sites in the country are considered as wetlands.
They said wetland biodiversity conservation could be achieved under the fourth Ramsar Strategic Plan of 2016-2024.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 25th, 2020.
‘MICRO-POLLUTION RAVAGING CHINA, SOUTH ASIA’: LAHORE SECOND MOST POLLUTED MEGACITY
AFP Updated February 26, 2020
PARIS: Nearly 90 per cent of the 200 cities beset by the world’s highest levels of deadly micro-pollution are in China and India, with most of the rest in Pakistan and Indonesia, researchers reported on Tuesday.
Taking population into account, Bangladesh emerged as the country with the worst so-called PM2.5 pollution, followed by Pakistan, Mongolia, Afghanistan and India, according to the 2019 World Air Quality Report, jointly released by IQAir Group and Greenpeace. China ranks 11th.
Particulate matter of 2.5 microns or less in diameter — roughly 1/30 the width of a human hair — is the most dangerous type of airborne pollution.
Microscopic flecks are small enough to enter the bloodstream via the respiratory system, leading to asthma, lung cancer and heart disease.
Among the world’s megacities of 10 million or more people, the most PM2.5-toxic in 2019 was the Indian capital New Delhi, followed by Lahore in Pakistan, Dhaka in Bangladesh, Kolkata in India, Linyi and Tianjin in China, and Jakarta, Indonesia.
Next on the list were Wuhan — epicentre of the new coronavirus outbreak — along with Chengdu and Beijing.
New Delhi on top, Dhaka third, says IQAir and Greenpeace study for 2019
The IQAir report is based on data from nearly 5,000 cities worldwide.
Most of the seven million premature deaths attributed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to air pollution are caused by PM2.5 particles, which originate in sandstorms, agriculture, industry, wildfires and especially the burning of fossil fuels.
“Air pollution is the world’s leading environmental health threat,” said IQAir CEO Frank Hammes. “Ninety percent of the global population is breathing unsafe air.” China’s average urban PM2.5 concentration dropped 20 per cent in 2018 and 2019, but last year it still counted 117 of the 200 most polluted cities in the world.
All but two per cent of China’s cities exceeded WHO guidelines for PM2.5 levels, while 53 percent exceeded less stringent national safety limits.
Less data from Africa: The UN says PM2.5 density should not top 25 microgrammes per cubic metre (25 mcg/m3) of air in any 24-hour period. China has set the bar at 35 mcg/m3.
More than a million premature deaths in China each year are caused by air pollution, according to the WHO. Recent calculations put the toll at up to twice that figure.
Across a large swathe of northern India and north-central China, meeting WHO standards year-round for PM2.5 pollution would increase life expectancy up to six or seven years, according to the Air Quality Life Index, developed by researchers at the Energy Policy Institute of Chicago.
In India, small particle pollution exceeds WHO limits by 500 per cent, even if air pollution in general declined significantly last year, with 98 per cent of cities monitored showing improvements.
Among the club of 36 rich OECD nations, South Korea was the most polluted for PM2.5, counting 105 of the worst 1,000 cities on the index. In Europe, Poland and Italy count 39 and 31 cities, respectively, in this tranche.
Other parts of the world such as Africa and the Middle East lacked data.
“What cannot be measured cannot be managed,” Hammes said. “Africa, a continent of 1.3 billion people, currently has less than 100 monitoring stations that make PM2.5 data available to the public in realtime.” As of 2018, China alone had more than 1,000 such stations in 200 cities.
Climate change has begun to amplify the health risk of PM2.5 pollution, especially through more intense forest fires and sandstorms made worse by spreading desertification, the report found.
Global warming and PM2.5 also have the same primary driver: the burning of coal, oil and gas.
While the link with lung cancer was well established, a recent study showed that most excess deaths from air pollution are caused by heart attacks, strokes and other types of cardiovascular disease.
Small and larger particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and ozone (O3) have likewise been linked to drops in cognitive performance, labour productivity and educational outcomes.
Of cities with more than one million people, the least affected by PM2.5 are Adelaide, Helsinki, Stockholm, and San Jose in central California, followed by Perth and Melbourne in Australia, and Calgary in Canada, and New York.
Published in Dawn, February 26th, 2020
Editorial February 26, 2020
ON Sunday, Prime Minister Imran Khan kicked off his spring tree plantation drive from the place he launched his political career many years ago: Mianwali. Planting new trees is part of the ruling party’s manifesto; it has promised a ‘10-billion tree tsunami’ to be carried out in its five-year term, and the prime minister has repeatedly brought up the priority he attaches to protecting the environment at a time when climate change, pollution and poor air quality are disrupting life and livelihoods. During his most recent trip, Mr Khan spoke about his desire to see tree plantation drives introduced in school curricula to ensure a better future. Unfortunately, destructive forces move at a far quicker pace than good intentions, and Pakistan continues to have one of the highest deforestation rates in the world — estimated to be between 0.2 pc and 0.5pc annually — due to expanding urbanisation, industrialisation, a growing population, and the continued threat from a powerful timber mafia that is often politically connected. The mafia has also been accused of using violence against environmental activists that stood in its path in the past, while authorities turned a blind eye to or abetted its ruthless ambition. For short-term gains, the long-term well-being of the environment, the many ecosystems these forests host and the livelihoods attached to them are put at stake in an exercise that can only be described as criminal, and which is rarely, if ever, prosecuted.
The prime minister has now directed his government in Punjab to come up with a strategy to counter the timber mafia in the province. His heart may be in the right place, and he may think that the arrest of those who cut down trees will be a deterrent, but unless he successfully tackles the real criminal forces head-on, his desire for creating long-lasting change will remain only that. It takes many years for a sapling to grow into a tree, and only a few minutes for a fully grown tree to be chopped down. This trend needs to be reversed.
Published in Dawn, February 26th, 2020
GOVT TOLD TO SEAL STORES STILL USING PLASTIC BAGS
The Newspaper’s Staff Reporter February 29, 2020
LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Friday ordered the provincial government to immediately seal super stores still using plastic bags if they did not furnish affidavits to comply with the ban in seven days.
Justice Shahid Karim was hearing a public interest petition, when Additional Advocate General Anees Hashmi submitted a report on behalf of the Environment Protection Agency (EPA).
He stated that bakeries including Cakes & Bakes, Gourmet, Malmo and government utility stores had not abandoned the plastic bags as ordered by the court.
However, he said, Al-Fateh store and Shezan Bakers submitted affidavits to quit using plastic bags from March 4.
Justice Karim directed the government to seal the bakeries and all such stores if they did not give affidavits to comply with the ban within seven days.
The law officer said the consumers at the bakeries had been complaining about unavailability of plastic bags. The consumers needed these bags to carry eggs, he said.
Petitioner’s counsel Abuzar Salman Niazi pointed out that at stores in Cantonment areas the buyers brought rag bags with them.
Justice Karim observed that the majority of consumers was unaware of the hazards of plastic bags, but the court would eliminate all environmental hazardous items.
The judge also expressed displeasure over the sale of drinking water in plastic bottles and issued notices to all water manufacturing companies, including Nestle, Pepsi and Coca Cola.
The judge noted with regret that the whole world already gave up selling water in plastic bottles and switched to glass.
On Feb 7 last, the judge had given a two-week time to the departmental stores to shift to alternate modes.
The petitioner contended that plastic products caused harmful effects on human health and environment by the use of polythene bags and styrofoam products (plastic straws, cups, spoons, plates, food trays and other related disposable material).
He said polythene bags and styrofoam products were single use plastics which took thousands of years to decompose and they had been causing havoc in various areas of Punjab and were damaging the sewerage system of cities, spreading epidemics, polluting soil, causing water pollution and endangering aquatic life.
He argued that the use of 15 microns thickness was an environmental disaster and even in the Third World countries the minimum permissible thickness was 50 microns (which was relatively less hazardous for environment).
Published in Dawn, February 29th, 2020
NGO DEMANDS FOREST RESTORATION
OUR CORRESPONDENT February 29, 2020
HYDERABAD. The Indus Development Organization, a non-profit organization, held a protest in Matiari district on Friday, demanding the implementation of the Supreme Court’s order to restore forests in Sindh. An organization member, Zain Daudpoto, stated that the court had ordered the provincial government to remove encroachments and restore forest cover in Sindh, but the order was not being implemented. He maintained that the operations carried out so far, to recover land from those occupying it illegally, were an eyewash.
TREE CUTTING CONTINUES WITH IMPUNITY IN F-9 PARK
Ikram Junaidi Updated March 01, 2020
Logs seen lying in F-9 Park in Islamabad. — Photo by the writer
ISLAMABAD: One of the most attractive public parks in the federal capital – Fatima Jinnah Park commonly known as F-9 Park – may lose attraction due to unchecked cutting of trees.
It has become a routine that trees are cut down and shifted from the park. Even a wall/fence near Mehran Gate has been broken for the shifting out of logs.
On the other hand, no one takes notice of the issue as Metropolitan Corporation of Islamabad (MCI) and Capital Development Authority (CDA) are at loggerheaded over the distribution of resources.
However, MCI’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Humayun Akhtar claimed that no trees were chopped in the park. He said the wall near Mehran Gate could not be repaired as the MCI lacked resources.
Mafia involved in chopping trees and taking out logs from park, citizens say
F-9 Park attracts a large number of visitors, including tourists from across the country. Spreading over 759 acres, the park has beautiful jogging tracks and a children’s area.
Dr Shahid Ansari, a retired government officer, who daily walks in the park, said a mafia was involved in the cutting of trees.
“The trunk of a tree is cut off gradually till it falls on the wall from where it is dragged at an appropriate moment. The timber mafia brings poor women from nearby villages on a daily basis to cut wood and collect branches. At times they are helped by men as well. The visitors to the park are witness to the women carrying stacks of wood and crossing the park’s walking tracks right under the nose of security guards. They deliver the wood to pickups and motorbikes near the park’s broken boundary wall at several places on the left side of Mehran Gate facing G-9 towards Blue Area,” he said.
“Big fallen trees can be seen at several places in the jungle area of the park and disappear next day probably taken out at some later hours of night through the broken areas and park authorities have no intention to repair them. Deforestation at such a large scale would have a bad effect on biodiversity of the park,” he said.
Another resident, Mohammad Naeem, told Dawn that the MCI should do numbering on the trees because it had become easy for the mafia to cut trees and shift them at nights. He said if a record of trees is maintained the activities of the timber mafia could be checked.
“The prime minister has launched a spring tree plantation drive from Mianwali and planting of trees is the ruling party’s manifesto. However, unfortunately Pakistan has the highest deforestation rate in the world. Departments should control the timber mafia that is politically connected,” he said.
“It should be made mandatory for all public sector institutions to plant saplings every year according to the land available with them. Moreover, strict action should be taken against elements involved in chopping of trees,” he said.
But CEO Akhtar said though ideally numbering of trees should be done, it was not practically possible.
“We do numbering of those trees which have to be cut due to different reasons such as they become dry or fell by themselves,” he said.
When asked about the broken fence near Mehran Gate, Mr Akhtar said MCI lacked resources due to which it was not possible to repair the wall/fence.
The MCI and CDA are at loggerheads over the issue of resources. After observing growing tension between the two institutions, Senate Chairman Mohammad Sadiq Sanjrani recently formed a four-member special committee to look into the issue. The committee is headed by Senator Syed Mushahid Hussain Sayed while Senators Dr Shahzad Waseem and Mohammad Ali Khan Saif are its members. The interior minister will be an ex-officio member of the committee while additional secretary Senate Hafeezullah Sheikh will be its secretary.
The committee has been tasked with reviewing and examining the jurisdiction issue between CDA and MCI.
Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2020
NEWS COVERAGE PERIOD FROM FEB 17 TO FEB 23, 2020
MINISTER ASKS OFFICIALS TO SPEED UP URBAN FORESTATION IN CITY
The Newspaper’s Staff Reporter February 18, 2020
KARACHI: Minister for Forests and Wildlife Nasir Shah asked the officials concerned on Monday to expedite their efforts to ensure that the provincial government’s Green Pakistan Programme was implemented in a way that served to make the country an environment-friendly place.
The minister presided over a meeting in his office to review progress vis-à-vis implementation of the Green Pakistan Programme.
“Every obstacle that comes in the way of this programme should be removed in soonest possible time,” said the minister when he was informed about various factors that hindered the programme’s smooth sailing.
The meeting reviewed the pace and progress of the urban forestation along the Lyari riverbank.
The minister said the scheme reflected the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party’s policy to support and encourage the efforts that were taken to improve environment in the province.
Progress on implementation of the Green Pakistan Programme reviewed
He said initiatives such as Green Pakistan Programme and urban forestation were the brainchildren of PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, whose vision was to improve the environment as a tool to improve the living standard of the people of Sindh.
He was informed about various issues that impeded the pace of the effort.
Mr Shah, however, warned the officials that no laxity would be tolerated that could delay the project.
He said the PPP leader had inaugurated the urban forestation project as a priority showing his immense interest in it because of its importance for the urban way of life.
“This programme should be completed in the soonest possible time in accordance with the vision of chairman Bilawal Bhutto,” said the minister.
He added that special measures be taken for nurturing saplings planted in the urban forests. Besides, the authorities should make available spaces dedicated for sporting activities.
“Providing places for sports should be an integral part of this project since the Lyari River represents Lyari, which is a place chiefly identified for its love of sports and sportspersons,” said the minister.
He said a playground for children also be provided on a location of urban forestation sites. Besides, jogging tracks and recreation facilities should be there to attract visitors and foreign tourists.
“These sites should attract tourists from elsewhere from the country and abroad. The authorities should call it People’s Urban Forests and that should be advertised with boards in the city.”
The minister said the urban forests should be visible to everyone for which the forest department should support every municipality.
“Tree plantation should be done along every thoroughfare, street and storm-water drain. Besides, saplings and plants be taken care of wherever they are planted.”
He said Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah would be requested to inaugurate a spring tree plantation campaign.
Minister Shah also directed the authorities to plant trees along the tracks of railway as well.
Meanwhile, Nasir Shah visited the Karachi Press Club and attended the journalists’ protest outside the KPC where he assured the protesting journalists that killers of Aziz Memon, a reporter of the KTN news channel in Mehrabpur, who was murdered recently, would soon be arrested and punished.
He said the murder of a senior journalist had saddened everyone and everyone should condemn it. He said the late Mr Memon’s family would not be left alone and the government would accord all possible help to them.
Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2020
CHIEF SECRETARY DETERMINED TO MAKE QUETTA ‘GREEN’
By Our Correspondent Published: February 20, 2020
QUETTA: Balochistan Chief Secretary Captain (retd) Fazeel Asghar has stressed the need to restore the beauty of Quetta and urged the authorities to continue implementing the ban on the use of plastic bags in the city.
He was addressing a seminar titled “Commodities Price Control and Clean and Green Quetta” the other day in the provincial capital.
“The provincial government plans to install solid waste management plant to recycle city’s garbage into energy for which experts from the United States and other developed countries will visit Quetta,” he said.
“The metropolitan corporation has been directed to carry on the implementation on the use of biodegradable plastic bags in the city,” he added.
The chief secretary expressed dissatisfaction over the cleanliness situation in the city and directed Quetta administrator to ensure provision of adequate hygiene and sanitation facilities to the people.
“The provincial government has been taking initiative for clean and green Quetta and the need of manpower for Quetta Metropolitan Corporation would be fulfilled,” he said.
Speaking about the measures taken to ensure implementation on government’s price list for daily-use commodities, Asghar said the authorities had constituted committees at the district level for the purpose.
“Strict action has been directed against profiteers and people selling unhygienic edible items to innocent citizens,” he said.
He urged the Anjuman-e-Tajran and Quetta Chamber of Commerce and Industry to join government’s hands in establishing sasta bazaars across the province.
The chief secretary took notice of the non-functional wastewater treatment plants in Quetta and maintained that the provincial government would take assistance from the Punjab government for establishing province’s own agricultural authority.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 20th, 2020.
LHC GIVES EPA A WEEK TO ENFORCE BAN ON PLASTIC BAGS AT STORES
The Newspaper’s Staff Reporter Updated February 22, 2020
LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Friday sought a report from the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) about compliance of a ban on use of plastic bags at all mega stores in the provincial metropolis.
“There should be no plastic bags at stores after a week,” Justice Shahid Karim ordered the EPA.
On Feb 7 last, the judge had given a two-week time to the departmental stores to shift to alternate modes.
During the Friday’s hearing, Advocate Abuzar Salman Niazi, on behalf of petitioner, complained to the judge that the order of the court had not been implemented in letter and spirit.
A legal officer of the EPA told the court that steps were being taken to enforce the ban.
A lawyer appeared on behalf of polythene bags manufacturers and sought court’s permission to become a party to the case. The judge, however, dismissed the request and advised the manufacturers to approach the government if they had any grievance.
At this point, the judge observed that the whole world had already abandoned plastic bags and big industries were turning themselves into “green companies”, the environment friendly companies.
Justice Karim observed that the polythene bags had become a poison for the environment.
The counsel for the manufacturers said they were also in favour of banning the hazardous plastic bags. He said the manufacturers had started producing biodegradable bags but had been facing harassment at the hands of government officials.
Taking up another matter, the judge allowed two more weeks to the petroleum ministry to finalise process for adoption of Euro IV & V standards diesel and petrol fuels.
A federal government lawyer told the court that the policy to adopt environment friendly fuels was in final stages.
Separately, the judge also sought a report from Traffic, Engineering and Planning Agency (Tepa) on a plan for roads of the city and encroachment.
The EPA was also directed to submit a report on progress in steps taken for water treatment and recycling.
The judge adjourned further hearing of all matters till Feb 28.
Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2020
22,000 CHILDREN DIE ANNUALLY DUE TO POOR SANITATION, SENATE BODY TOLD
Kashif Abbasi Updated February 22, 2020
ISLAMABAD: Over 22,000 children die annually because of preventable diarrhea with 79 million Pakistanis still lacking a decent toilet facility.
This information was shared by Salman Sufi of SS Foundation which runs ‘Saff Bath Project’, with Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change headed by Senator Sitara Ayaz, which met at the Parliament House on Friday.
He said Pakistan had fifth highest number of people practicing defecation in the open.
Besides, 53pc of Pakistani women do not have access to proper sanitation, and lack of public toilets costs Pakistan $2.5 billion per annum, he added.
Giving a detailed briefing on Saff Bath Project, Mr Sufi said this project was designed to provide clean toilet facility to public.
Saff Bath Project provides sanitised container toilets, SS Foundation representative says
Mr Sufi said the project provided sanitised container toilets, which were managed, maintained and cleaned by dedicated staff.
Earlier, he said according to a report published in 2017, almost 820 latrines need to be constructed per day to achieve an open defecation free Pakistan by 2030.
He told the Senate committee that women and girls were the hardest hit by shortage of toilets, and girls also commonly miss out on education if schools have inadequate sanitation and hygiene management facilities.
He said another important issue was safety of women at public toilets where harassment cases were common.
Mr Sufi said diseases spread through unhygienic condition, adding that the National Sanitation Policy of 2006 needed to be revised.
He said the country’s tourist sites had almost no toilet facilities.
The committee members and State Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul assured their full support to Mr Sufi and said the committee would take all possible steps to assist him in providing toilet facility to people of the country.
Earlier, the committee came down hard on directorates concerned for poor cleanliness arrangements and not taking action against brick kilns operating in federal capital.
The committee was supposed to get compliance report from Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad regarding cleanliness arrangements in markets.
However, Director Sanitation Sardar Khan Zimri could not provide the compliance report to the committee. To this, the committee members said the MCI was not taking the committee’s recommendations seriously.
“We had directed you to hold meetings with traders to sort out cleanliness issue in markets and you were supposed to submit a report, but you failed; this is ridiculous,” she said.
Supporting the views of the chairperson, the members said the citizens of Islamabad were suffering from poor cleanliness arrangements because of fighting between MCI and CDA.
The committee members said the MCI collected garbage to dump it in I-12, which was hazardous and injurious to the health of people.
The committee directed the mayor and CDA chairman to appear before the committee in next meeting.
Meanwhile, PPP Senator Sherry Rehman criticised the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA), saying a large numbers of brick kilns were polluting Islamabad, but no serious action had been taken against them.
Pak-EPA Director General Farzana Altaf told the committee that there were 63 brick kilns in Islamabad and 12 of them had been converted to the new environment-friendly zigzag technology.
Senator Rehman said the issue of brick kiln should be taken seriously.
State Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul said the federal cabinet had already decided to help all 18,000 to 20,000 brick kilns operating in the country to convert them in zigzag technology. She said the climate change ministry is working on this project.
Senator Rehman asked that what is the cut-off date for completion of this project. The minister said she could not give definitive deadline.
“This is called truck ke batti (light of truck),” Senator Rehman said and left.
Later on, Senator Pervaiz Rasheed, while talking about the death of people in Karachi because of lethal gas poisoning, said that it was the responsibility of the climate change ministry to get an FIR registered against the people involved in this case.
Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2020
NEWS COVERAGE PERIOD FROM FEB 10 TO FEB 16, 2020
ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION THREATENS PUNJAB WILDLIFE
By Our Correspondent Published: February 11, 2020
RAWALPINDI: Creeping urbanization, sprawling industrial zones, excessive use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers, poaching and destruction of wildlife habitats has been inflicting serious damage on the wildlife of the country, particularly in Punjab.
This was stated by the Punjab Minister for Wildlife and Fisheries Malik Asad Khokhar on Monday while inaugurating a pheasant hunting event at Kallar Kahar.
The minister expressed the hope that the ‘Clean and Green Pakistan Programme’ will restore forests and habitats for wildlife and also create positive impacts on the environment.
“Our priority is to discourage poaching and promotion of sport hunting through legal channels,” he said, asserting that the government will not compromise on it.
Regarding the pheasant hunt, Khokar said that their prime objective for organising the event was to eliminate the existing gap between the department and legal hunters as well as to promote legal hunting in the province. He urged the participants to disseminate the message of legal hunting in their circle.
The minister asserted that he was completely aware of the problems faced by the wildlife department and that he will convey them to the prime minister and the Punjab chief minister.
“The wildlife in the province is our asset and we have to protect it all costs,” Khokar said, adding that trophy hunting is a part of wildlife conservation programmes across the world. He said that events such as pheasant hunting can become possible after an increase in the population of the fowl beyond a certain threshold.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2020.
3.2M SAPLINGS TO BE PLANTED IN BALOCHISTAN
The Newspaper’s Staff Correspondent Updated February 12, 2020
QUETTA: Balochistan Forest Secretary Mir Saeed Ahmed Jamali has said that 3.2 million saplings will be planted in the province this year.
He said the standing committee of the forest department had approved the 10 billion tsunami tree project.
Mr Jamali said tenders had been issued in 33 districts. On the occasion of World Forest Day, 1m trees will be planted, while 31m saplings will be planted across the province this year for which cluster plantation work is under way, he added.
He said the forest department had only 7 per cent area of the province while the rest was with the community. “The forest department has been trying to take action against elements involved in illegal cutting of forest,” he said.
Published in Dawn, February 12th, 2020
AIR POLLUTION COSTS $2.9TR A YEAR: REPORT
AFP Updated February 13, 2020
PARIS: The global cost of air pollution caused by fossil fuels is $8 billion a day, or roughly 3.3 percent of the entire world’s economic output, an environmental research group said on Wednesday.
The report from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) and Greenpeace Southeast Asia is the first to assess the global cost of air pollution specifically from burning oil, gas and coal.
“We found that the China Mainland, the United States and India bear the highest costs from fossil fuel air pollution worldwide, an estimated $900 billion, $600 billion and $150 billion per year, respectively,” the report said.
Particles thrown off by fossil fuel usage account for 4.5 million premature deaths each year around the globe, including 1.8 million in China and a million in India, the researchers found.
The new figure is in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates of 4.2 million deaths each year linked to ground-level air pollution, mostly from heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and acute respiratory infections in children.
Living in the New Delhi area of India is like smoking 10 cigarettes a day, earlier research has shown.
“Air pollution from fossil fuels is a threat to our health and our economies that takes millions of lives and costs us trillions of dollars,” said Minwoo Son, clean air campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia.
The global cost for 2018 was $2.9 trillion, the report estimated.
“But this is a problem that we know how to solve: by transitioning to renewable energy sources, phasing out diesel and petrol cars, and building public transport.” The 44-page report breaks down the global burden of fossil fuel-driven air pollution — measured in economic costs and premature deaths — by type of pollutant and by country.
Each year the global economy takes a $350 billion hit from nitrogen dioxide (NO2) — a byproduct of fossil fuel combustion in vehicles and power plants — and a further $380 billion hit from ozone, according to middle-ground estimates.
By far the most costly pollutant is microscopic fine particulate matter (PM 2.5), which accounts for more than two trillion dollars per year in damages, measured in health impacts, missed work days and years lost to premature death.
The global breakdown for premature deaths each year was 500,000 for NO2, one million for ozone, and three million for PM 2.5.
Some 40,000 children die every year before their fifth birthday due to PM 2.5, which also leads to two million preterm births annually and twice as many cases of asthma.
PM 2.5 particles penetrate deep into the lungs and enter the bloodstream, causing cardiovascular respiratory problems. In 2013, the WHO classified it as a cancer-causing agent.
Middle-range estimates of the number of premature deaths stemming from fossil fuel pollution include 398,000 for the European Union, 230,000 for the United States, 96,000 for Bangladesh, and 44,000 for Indonesia.
Among countries taking the biggest economic hit each year are China ($900 billion), the United States ($610 bn), India ($150 bn), Germany ($140 bn), Japan ($130 bn), Russia ($68 bn) and Britain ($66 bn).
Globally, air pollution accounts for 29 percent of all deaths and disease from lung cancer, 17 percent from acute lower respiratory infection, and a quarter from stroke and heart disease, according to the WHO.
Published in Dawn, February 13th, 2020
SEPA CRACKS DOWN ON FIVE TEXTILE MILLS
By Our Correspondent Published: February 15, 2020
KARACHI: Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) director-general Naeem Ahmed Mughal paid a surprise visit to five textile mills, monitoring their production activities with regard to environmental standards, in Karachi on Friday.
Accompanied by SEPA Karachi director Dr Ashique Ali Langah and other officials, Mughal visited Qasim Textile Mill, Rajby Textile Mill, Lucky Textile Mill, Popular Textile Mill and Zaman Textile Mill, in Malir district.
He found that none of the five mills were fully complying with Sindh’s environmental laws, while most of their environmental affairs were not up to the mark. When Mughal inquired about their mandatory environmental approval before establishing their operational setup and asked if their effluent was being treated as required before being released, their management was unable to give a satisfactory answer.
Mughal has directed the mills’ representatives to appear before him on February 19, with documented evidence of their compliance with the clauses of the Sindh Environmental Protection Act, 2014.
The SEPA official stated that Barrister Murtaza Wahab, the advisor to the Sindh chief minister on law, environment, climate change and coastal development, had directed that necessary action be taken against polluters without any leniency.
Under Sections 11 and 14 of the Sindh Environmental Protection Act 2014, all industries are obligated to treat their effluent and wastewater before releasing it into water bodies. In the case of non-compliance, they may be fined and, on continued violations, their operations may be halted.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2020.
2,000 TREES PLANTED ALONG KASHMIR HIGHWAY
The Newspaper’s Staff Reporter February 16, 2020
ISLAMABAD: More than 2,000 trees including cheer, pine and citrus have been planted on Kashmir Highway under Clean, Green Pakistan initiative.
According to a statement, Capital Development Authority (CDA) was tasked to carry out landscaping and tree plantation along the Kashmir Highway in January.
The purpose of this initiative was to protect the right of way and green belt along the Kashmir Highway from encroachments and illegal constructions.
In accordance with the vision of the prime minister regarding protection and enhancement of the green character of Islamabad, tree plantation and landscaping work is in full swing and due to consistent efforts so far 2,000 trees have been planted.
The tree plantation is being carried out in collaboration and assistance with all departments concerned including CDA, ICT Administration, Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad.
In order to enhance survival rate 6 feet tall grown trees are being planted.
During this designated campaign up till now 1,200 grown up tress have been planted on the section from G-13 to G-14, 250 grown cheer pine have been planted from G-9 to G-10 while plantation of grown trees on the section along the sector G-11 is in progress. Similarly, the tree plantation would also be carried out on the both sides along G-8.
The basic objective of planting grown trees is to ensure survival and proper growth of the plants. Moreover, different indigenous species are also been preferred as they can withstand the local weather conditions.
Furthermore, Environment Staff of MCI has been deputed so that survival of these plants could be carried out.
Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2020
EUCALYPTUS PLANTATION TO BE MINIMISED UNDER AFFORESTATION INITIATIVE
Zulfiqar Ali February 16, 2020
PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa forest department has decided to minimise the plantation of eucalyptus during the execution of the Billion Tree Afforestation Project (BTAP) in the province following criticism by environmentalists and botanical specialists.
“Plantation of eucalyptus will be contained only to waterlogged areas, riverbanks and canals that make approximately 10 per cent of one billion saplings to be planted during the next four years in KP under BTAP,” said project director Mohammad Tehmasip.
He said the pros and cons of the species had been discussed at different forums and it was decided to reduce the ratio of eucalyptus to 10 per cent.
The official said eucalyptus plantation would be carried out at the designated locations only.
He admitted that the stately tree was not suitable to be grown near residential areas as its roots damaged water supply and drainage systems and harmed crops and farmlands.
Official says stately tree’s roots damage water supply, drainage systems, farmlands
“The department will plant more indigenous species under the new programme,” he said.
A source in the forest department told Dawn that feedback of different forums had forced the department to restrict the plantation of eucalyptus to waterlogged and saline areas.
He said the Pakistan Forest Institute had organised a three days conference in Peshawar last year to discuss merits and demerits of eucalyptus plantation under BTAP.
Under the revised plan, eucalyptus will not be planted near residential areas, agricultural lands and the regions, where the water table has gone down.
The spring plantation has begun across the province, including merged tribal districts, with a total of 100 million saplings to be planted by the end of next June.
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government has planned to grow 10 billion species across the country.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where one billion trees have already been grown under the much-publicised Billion Tree Tsunami Project since 2013, will plant additional one billion saplings under BTAP.
The provincial government’s Billion Tree Tsunami, flagship project of the ruling PTI during its five years tenure (2013-18), received global appreciations, including the World Economic Forum’s, but it drew criticism in the country due to massive eucalyptus plantation.
Officials said the ratio of eucalyptus plantation in the Billion Tree Tsunami project was 23 per cent of the total afforestation programme.
They said the survival chances of eucalyptus were high compared to other plants.
The officials also said eucalyptus did not require regular water and protection from grazing animals, so those characteristics made it the most favourite species of forest conservators in KP and other provinces.
“Unfortunately, eucalyptus is the most mismanaged species in Pakistan due to plantation at inappropriate locations,” said a botanical expert.
He said eucalyptus was economically very valuable plant but it was planted at wrong places.
The expert said the species was imported from Australia to address salinity and water logging but it was planted without planning in cities, residential areas, farmlands, arid and semi-arid regions, parks, hills and plains and thus, causing environmental issues.
“One can see enclosures of eucalyptus forests from Dera Ismail Khan to high-altitude Chitral,” he said, adding that the water table had gone down in different areas due to the widespread plantation of the species.
Official said the forest department would give preference to indigenous plants in BTAP.
The department had included 116 species mostly indigenous to be planted in three regions of the province, including merged districts.
Mohammad Tehmasip said the estimated cost of BTAP was Rs27 billion to be equally funded by the federal and provincial governments.
He said the department would carry out 40 per cent plantation in merged districts, previously known as Fata.
The project director said 156 events would be organised during plantation in the province.
He said the forest department had signed a memorandum of understanding with the elementary and secondary education department under which every student of the primary and higher secondary schools would plant saplings.
“Approximately four million saplings will be planted through the scheme alone this season,” he said, adding that MoUs will also be signed with communication and works, social welfare and agriculture departments.
Mohammad Tehmasip said the departments would allow the forest department to carry out plantation on their lands.
Officials said plantation on 1,455 enclosures had been completed during the ongoing campaign and had done afforestation on all categories on 8200.756 hectares out of the total 19,101 hectares.
They claimed that 75 million saplings had been planted during the ongoing campaign in the province.
Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2020
By Editorial Published: February 16, 2020
Revelations made in a World Bank report that Karachi’s urban environment and infrastructure provision have not kept pace with its growth should not come as a surprise to the residents of the city. The report states that green areas have shrunk by 4% whereas the urban extent in the core city has expanded by 8% between 2005 and 2017. Informal settlements are pervasive in the central part of the city. The city’s population has increased from 10 million in 1998 to 16 million in 2017, mainly through migration. The share of public spaces out of the total built-up areas is 14%, and the share of street areas is 8.7%. There is a considerable number of unclassifiable public spaces and a lack of neighbourhood parks in the city. Further, despite being a highly residential city, in many residential neighbourhoods, there are no green areas that can provide environmental and social benefits for people.
The report picked two cities — Karachi and Dhaka — as case studies as they represent two densely-populated megacities in South Asia that rank low on liveability measure and suffer from weak planning and enforcement capacity. Dhaka and Karachi have large areas of vacant and open land — around 15% to 20% of the total built-up areas. These areas can be transformed into public spaces. The report stresses the need for increasing the number of public spaces such as neighbourhood parks, markets and community centres. It says city governments often don’t invest in the creation and management of quality public spaces due to poor urban planning and financial constraints.
It is, however, common knowledge that it is mismanagement, lack of political will and corruption that ail Karachi. Over the years, many parks have disappeared and in those spaces have come up tall buildings. This is, of course, not possible without official collusion. The irony is that greenery has decreased at a time when it’s most needed. The law of jungle prevails in Karachi, and in such a situation things can only deteriorate.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 16th, 2020.
ENVIRONMENTAL CRISES TO COST WORLD RS74,108 BILLION A YEAR
News Report February 16, 2020
LONDON: Rising food prices, droughts, commodity shortages, extreme flooding and coastal erosion will wipe trillions of pounds off economies around the world if we don’t act urgently on the global environmental crisis, a new WWF study shows.
The Global Futures study estimates the decline of natural assets will cost the world at least £368 billion (Rs74,108 billion) a year – adding up to almost £8 trillion by 2050 – roughly equivalent to the combined economies of the UK, France, India and Brazil, reported foreign media on Saturday.
The UK will suffer some of the biggest financial losses – third behind only the United States and Japan taking an annual hit to its economy of at least £16 billion by 2050 – the current combined annual funding for the police, fire service, prisons and law courts. The main economic costs will be caused by the loss of natural coastal protection services leading to flooding and erosion, as well as declining fish stocks harming the fishing industry. Global Futures uses innovative economic and environmental modelling to calculate and compare the costs of nature’s decline across 140 countries and for key industry sectors. This method of analysis was created through a partnership between WWF, the Global Trade Analysis Project and the Natural Capital Project. The study revealed annual global costs due to loss of specific ecosystem services by 2050 of;
Water supply for agriculture -£14 billion, Pollination from wild pollinators: -£12 billion, Forestry production: -£6 billion.
These are conservative estimates, as only some impacts can be modelled at present, and the study does not take into account the risk-multiplying effects of environmental tipping points, beyond which habitats change rapidly and irreversibly, leading to sudden catastrophic loss of nature’s services. If all of these issues were factored in, the figures would be even starker. The study also predicts global price rises for key commodities such as timber, cotton, oil seeds, fruit and vegetables, as the agricultural sector will be hardest hit by the loss of nature. Predicted price rises for key commodities by 2050 include: Timber +8%, Cotton +6%, Oil seeds +4%, Fruit and vegetables +3%.
“We are destroying our planet and our economic future. We need urgent, global leadership and immediate action to change the way we use land, to invest in the restoration of nature, to cut emissions and critically to stop destroying forests for food production. This needs to be backed in the UK with bold policies to cut our global footprint and future trade deals that clearly reject deforestation and other poor agricultural practices.”
In Eastern and Western Africa, Central Asia and parts of South America nature loss including water shortages and a decline in pollinators will affect production levels, trade and food prices. Countries with extensive coastlines such as the United States, Australia and Japan will see large losses caused by damage to coastal infrastructure and farmland through increased flooding and erosion, as a result of loss of natural defences including coral reefs and mangroves.
In contrast, if land and sea use is managed carefully to avoid further nature loss, annual global GDP would slightly increase, by £9bn a year. “The science and economics are clear. We can no longer ignore the strong economic case for restoring nature. Inaction will result in slower economic growth, disruption of coastal communities and higher food prices. To ensure positive global futures, we need to achieve more sustainable patterns of production and land use, and reform economic and financial systems to incentivize nature-based decision making.” To drive investment in nature’s recovery at the scale and pace needed, we urgently need to transform our economic and financial systems.
NEWS COVERAGE PERIOD FROM FEB 03 TO FEB 09, 2020
101,569KG PLASTIC BAGS DISPOSED OF ACROSS KHYBER PAKHTUNKHWA
Bureau Report Updated February 03, 2020
PESHAWAR: The government has disposed of 101,569 kilogrammes of plastic bags across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 50,883 kilogrammes in Peshawar, while 84 shops and plastic factories have been sealed in the city, said an official statement here on Sunday.
In addition, action against drug addicts is in progress in the provincial capital and 2,165 drug addicts have been sent to rehabilitation centres in two months with the support of Department of Social Welfare and Police.
The statement said that Chief Minister Mahmood Khan was briefed about performance of the district administration, Peshawar, and progress made so far on the Peshawar Revival Plan.
During the briefing, it was stated that 86 unsafe gas cylinders had been removed from hotels and 405 CNG cylinders from school vans so far.
The meeting was also briefed about the progress made so far on the implementation of Peshawar Revival Plan and informed that the district administration had held two meetings with the consultation of concerned MPAs to address problems of the people in Peshawar city.
CM briefed about performance of Peshawar district administration
The first meeting was held in November 2019, in which a total of 23 issues were heard and resolved on the spot, while the second meeting was held in Dec 2019, in which 18 of 25 public issues were resolved.
Similarly, gas cylinders had also been inspected in 1,651 cars and 886 public transport vehicles.
In the last one year, 505 operations were carried out in the campaign against encroachment, resulting in recovery of 579 kanals of state land, 306 markets inspected, during which 1,164 shops were closed and 1,374 cabins and 475 signboards removed.
The meeting was also briefed about the anti-polio campaign and improvement of overall law and order situation in Peshawar. It was informed that under the Peshawar Revival Plan, PC-1 of the project had been approved to restore the historical status of Peshawar city and the strategy of ‘Remove, Repair, Realign, Renovate, Restore and Revive’ had been prepared. Under the plan, so far 115 shop signboards have been removed and replaced, and 1,000 saplings planted near Bacha Khan Flyover.
Officials said that estimated cost of the planned PC-1 was Rs45 million, including clean and green activities for the city. The meeting was also briefed about the traffic management plan for Peshawar. The entire city has been divided into six zones, while Zone-F has been started as a pilot project.
Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2020
LEFTIST LEADERS ASK MINING FIRMS TO STOP POLLUTING ENVIRONMENT OF THAR
A Correspondent February 04, 2020
MITHI: Leaders of leftist parties have warned mining companies to stop polluting environment of Thar desert and urged the government and landlords to stop treating peasants as their “slaves”.
They said at Sufi Shah Inayat Shaheed conference organised by Sindh Hari Committee in Islamkot town late on Sunday evening that landowners must mend their ways with regard to poor peasants and their families.
Comrade Imdad Qazi, general secretary of Communist Party of Pakistan, stressed that as long as peasants were treated like slaves there would be no change in society and the country would continue to face food crisis in coming years and decades.
He said that “greedy” private companies engaged in extraction of coal in Thar were violating basic human rights in the region and polluting environment. The firms must stop measures that had led to environmental disaster in Thar.
He said that it was high time for grain producers to launch a decisive struggle in the light of philosophy of Shah Inayat, who was a hero of all those who had a firm belief in preserving dignity and honour of farmers and peasants.
“Shah Inayat was the person, who had not only coined slogan of Jo khere so khai (one who tills has the right to eat) but also laid down his life for the noble cause,” he added.
Qazi lashed out at the mining companies for “depriving” Tharis of basic amenities of life and said it was a matter of great shame that people of Tharparkar were still being denied supply of safe drinking water and were therefore dying of waterborne diseases.
He expressed deep concern over rising cases of “forced” conversion of Hindu girls and urged the government to take action against all the people who were directly involved in abetting the crime of abduction of underage girls.
He said that government had given the companies a free hand to play havoc with clean atmosphere of Thar. Sadly, no studies were being conducted to assess the scale of damages being caused to environment of the desert region.
Comrade Mir Munawwar Talpur of Sindh Hari Tehreek said that Tharis were the most victimised section of society.
All mainstream political parties including Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz were only acting like puppets in the hands of establishment, he said.
Comrade Gulab Pirzado said that it was high time they followed teachings of great revolutionaries like Shah Inayat and Shaheed Mai Bakhtawar.
Prof Dr Riaz Ahmed lashed out at rulers and said that people of Thar were being subjected to abject poverty, which was the major reason behind rising number of suicides. The “insatiable greed” of the mining firms was creating grave dangers for the desert region, he said.
Comrade Iqbal said that mining firms were “forcing” people to leave their ancestral land without carrying out any development works in their areas or giving them jobs. Such cruel steps that the companies were taking in connivance with government might compel people to rise in revolt, he warned.
Prof Dr Fullo Mal Meghwar said that Tharis could get rid of the unjust system if they sent their children to school. Rulers were snatching Tharis’ rights to education and healthcare facilities, he said.
Neelam Kumari said that Thari women were denied all basic rights and were treated worse than animals. There was greater need to focus on the rights of Thari women, who fed the families and fetched water from wells located in remote areas.
Mohib Bheel, Ali Mardan Shaikh, Comrade Anwar Dingrani, Dayal Meghwar and others also spoke at the moot.
Published in Dawn, February 4th, 2020
GOVERNMENT MAKING STRIDES TO PRESERVE NATURE
By Asif Mehmood Published: February 4, 2020
LAHORE: In a bid to preserve nature and boost tourism in the province, the Punjab Wildlife Department has decided to launch three major projects under the Green Pakistan Programme.
Per sources, the programmes will include the development and rehabilitation of the Namal Lake, the establishment of a wildlife reservoir in Head Balloki and the breeding of black deer in the Cholistan Desert.
That apart, the department will also establish the largest wildlife breeding farm in the Chichawatni Reserved Forest, while rare animals and birds will be tagged with computerised chips across all the fourteen wildlife parks in the province.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, the director of the Green Pakistan Programme Hafiz Ahmed said that several developmental projects will be launched in Namal Lake and the Uchhali Complex. There are four natural lakes in the province which are visited by millions of Siberian migratory birds every year. The first project will introduce measures to desilt the lakes, protect wildlife therein.
“The second project will start in February and it will be based on the establishment of a Wildlife Reservoir in Head Balloki,” he said. “As a large number of tourists visit this place every year, the Punjab Wildlife Department has planned to establish a resort spread over 732 acres of land therein. Meanwhile, the third major project will be based on increasing the number of black deer in the Cholistan desert.”
He said that black deer is Cholistan’s indigenous animal, but due to human activities – which led to the destruction of its natural habitat – its population is threatened with extinction.
“A centre will be set up for the breeding of black deer in Cholistan where the process of cross-breeding will be carried out between local and DNA-certified breeds. The newly-bred deer will then be released into the wild,” he explained.
According to wildlife department officials, two more major projects will be launched in Punjab, under which the province’s largest and the most innovative breeding farm will be built in the forest of Chichawatni.
The breeding of domestic and exotic animals and birds in all the zoos and wildlife parks of the province will now be done locally, and the import of rare species of birds and animals from overseas will no longer be needed, officials said.
As for the tagging of rare animals with computerised chips in all the 14 wildlife parks of Punjab, officers said that these chips will make it easier to understand the habits of these animals and birds.
“The tagging will enable us to monitor the general health conditions of the animals and treat diseases to improve their health,” a wildlife department official said.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 4th, 2020.
EPA BANS ENVIRONMENTALLY UNFIT VEHICLES
By APP Published: February 5, 2020
ISLAMABAD: Balochistan Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has banned vehicles creating air pollution in Quetta.
Talking to APP, an official of Balochistan EPA Muhammad Khan said the government had phased out 100 busses in the last month which were creating air pollution and were running on intercity routes and different city thoroughfares on ‘non-compliant diesel fuel’ containing high ratio of hazardous sulphur dioxide.
There were more than 10,000 two-stroke auto rickshaws running in Quetta city which were lethally contributing to the smog outbreak in the provincial capital. The government has placed a ban on them to ensure pollution-free environment in the city, Khan said.
“Our teams are equipped with proper gadgets to check the emissions of vehicular fleets at random,” he said. “At present, most of the air pollution is mainly due to increased vehicular emissions and unbridled cars entering in the Quetta city,” he added.
The Balochistan EPA, he said, has issued notices to public and private departments with large fleets of buses plying on the roads of Quetta, instructing them to maintain their vehicles to avoid dark smoke releases.
He said it was imperative to initiate action against the vehicular pollution. However, open burning of garbage and organic rubble was also creating air pollution, Khan added, vowing to penalise perpetrators to protect environment.
“It is also the responsibility of the masses to avoid such practices and bring behavioural changes for a clean environment,” he urged.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2020.
ACCORD FOR PLANTATION DRIVE IN K-P
February 7, 2020
PESHAWAR. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) forest and Education Departments on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for launching a plantation drive in the province. The MoU was signed in the presence of K-P Chief Minister Mahmood Khan at a ceremony at the CM Secretariat. According to the MoU, as many as four million students studying across the province in schools and universities will participate in the drive. At least four billion saplings will be planted while every student will be made responsible not only for planting 10 saplings but also for looking after it. The ceremony, among other concerned officers, was also attended by the K-P Forest and Environment Minister Ishtiq Urmur, Minister for Elementary and Secondary Education Akbar Ayub, Special Assistant to K-P CM on Education Khaleequr.
PHA BEGINS CENSUS OF TREES, PLANS E-TAGGING
By Muhammad Ilyas Published: February 7, 2020
LAHORE: The Parks and Horticultural Authority (PHA) has begun a census of trees in Lahore for the first time.
The counting has been started in different areas of the city and the trees are also being assigned numbers that are being written on their trunks with red paint.
The PHA has also begun work on e-tagging of trees in the next phase to ensure their protection after ascertaining the location of each of them.
Initially, trees in Gulshan-e-Ravi, Allama Iqbal Town, Race Course Park, Jinnah Bagh, Gulberg, along the canal banks and other areas are being enumerated. The trees along The Mall have already been declared part of the city’s heritage to ensure their protection.
It estimated that Lahore has millions of trees and there were complaints about their theft. The e-tagging and writing a unique number on each of them will facilitate action against damaging trees or stealing wood. The PHA will be able to identify each tree in the city along with its location after the e-tagging is completed.
PHA spokesperson Nadia Tufail said the enumeration of trees had been started in Lahore to prepare and maintain their record. Last year, 175,000 trees were planted in the city and the target for this year’s spring season is 300,000. The spokesperson said the PHA authorities had issued instructions for increasing the number of trees in the provincial capital. She recalled that Lahore was considered the city of gardens and said the PHA was working to enhance its beauty.
After the completion of e-tagging, it will be easier to verify the number of trees planted. The spokesperson said the authority also regularly organised floral exhibitions in Lahore.
She said the PHA was also carrying out plantation alongside the newly built roads. Tufail said with the creation of a tree data bank in Lahore, it would now be possible to know how many trees were present in which area and how many more plants were needed in various localities. Weather and environment experts suggest that more trees should be planted in Lahore in view of the intense smog and increasing pollution in the city. They said increasing the number of trees is the most effective way to improve the environment.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 7th, 2020.
EUROPE, A PERFECT LANDSCAPE FOR WILDFIRES
written by The Daily James February 7, 2020
TIVISSA, Spain — Forests are getting some high-profile attention lately.
President Trump expressed his support on Tuesday night for a global effort to plant one trillion trees, which itself was announced at a gathering of business and political leaders in Davos, Switzerland, in January. A trillion trees, it was said at that meeting of the World Economic Forum, would go a long way in addressing climate change.
But while trees — and particularly forests full of trees — are vital for swallowing up and storing carbon, currently absorbing 30 percent of planet-warming carbon dioxide, they are also extremely vulnerable in the age of climate disruptions.
In a hotter, drier, more flammable climate, like here in the Mediterranean region, forests can die slowly from drought or they can go up in flames almost instantly, releasing all the planet-warming carbon stored in their trunks and branches into the atmosphere.
That raises an increasingly urgent question: How best to manage woodlands in a world that humans have so profoundly altered? “We need to decide what will be the climate-change forest for the future,” is how Kirsten Thonicke, a fire ecologist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, framed the challenge.
A forest revival in Erope is forcing that discussion now. Today roughly 40 percent of the European Union’s land mass is covered by trees, making it one of the most forest-fich regions in the world. It’s also ripe for wildfire.
In 2019, intense heat and drought helped spread fires across roughly 1,300 square miles in Europe, a swath of scorched land 15 percent bigger than the decade’s annual average, according to preliminary data issued in mid-January by the European Forest Fire Information System.
Marc Castellnou, a 47-year-old fire analyst with the Catalonian fire services, has seen that shift firsthand here in the hot, dry hills of Catalonia, in northeastern Spain, where his family has lived for generations in a medieval village overlooking the Ebro River.
His mother’s family grew almonds up here. The terraces they once hacked into these hard rocks still remain, along with the brick oven of the old farmhouse and a row of juniper trees, which, by local custom, signaled to anyone walking up from the coast that they could barter their fish for bread there.
The almond orchard has long been abandoned. In its place, a scrubby forest of short oaks and white pines has come up. Where goats once grazed, there is now a carpet of dry grass. A perfect landscape for fire.
What happened with his ancestors’ farm has played out across Europe, profoundly altering the countryside over the past half century. As farmers walked away from the land in favor of less backbreaking, more profitable ventures, forests came back.
Now Mr. Castellnou has been setting some of those forests ablaze, getting rid of the grasses and low-lying shrub so the flames can’t as easily race up to the crowns of the young, frail pines. The last thing he wants his two young children to inherit is a hillside strewn with dry, flammable brush.
“Climate change is changing everything,” Mr. Castellnou said. “We’re trying to build some vaccination into the landscape.”
In Europe last year, wildfires raged as far north as Sweden. Drought and beetle infestations killed swaths of forests in Germany, prompting a debate over what trees to plant in their place. Britain had more wildfires last year than ever before on record. Spain saw one of the sharpest increases in the number of individual fires. The European Union described forest fires as “a serious and increasing threat.”
The forests of Europe have been shaped and reshaped by human hands over centuries. Trees were cut for fuel and timber, then terraced so farmers like Mr. Castellnou’s forebears could plant whatever would fetch the most money.
His ancestors chose a steep hillside and planted almonds. The grandparents of his wife, Rut Domènech, 39, cultivated hazelnuts. Nearly everyone had olives to supply oil for the year. Some grew grapes to make wine. Every bit of hill was under cultivation.
By the second half of the 20th century, Catalonians began abandoning the steepest, hardest-to-farm hillsides in favor of the valleys, where machines and fertilizers made farming easier and more productive.
Mr. Castellnou’s father gave up working on other people’s almond orchards altogether. He helped construct a new highway, then a new nuclear power plant in the next town, then went to work in a factory making wooden picture frames.
With the nuclear plant nearby, locals prospered. Ms. Domènech’s father found construction work. Her mother opened a boutique in the next town.
Farming fell out of favor. The shepherds sold their animals.
Across Europe, between 1950 and 2010, amid rapid postwar reconstruction, woods and grasslands grew by roughly 150,000 square miles.
“I’m really sad my grandmother didn’t want to show me the value of the land,” Ms. Domènech, a researcher at the Forest Sciences Centre of Catalonia, a government backed institution, said as she walked past one of the many abandoned stone farmhouses.
It’s as though, she added, they weren’t proud of who they were.
Wispy white pines took over the hillsides, crammed tightly next to each other. Grasses grew tall.
As Catalonians migrated to cities, the fingerprints of climate change also emerged. Heat records were broken, one after another. The grass turned dry. The white pines began to drop their needles.
Farmers in the Montsant wine region of Catalonia now harvest earlier in the season; the heat sweetens the grapes too early, leading to higher alcohol content, and some worry whether they’ll have to switch to dessert wines.
On an exceptionally hot day last summer, on a poultry farm, a pile of manure caught fire, as mounds of animal waste have done before. But so fierce was the wind that the embers traveled across the hills, causing fires up to 13 miles away.
Fire, Mr. Castellnou pointed out more than once, is nature’s way of reshaping the landscape for the future. What will come up on these denuded hills will be less homogeneous, he said, and more resilient for a new climate.
He favors what he calls managed burns, getting rid of low brush in order to prevent the next fire from raging out of control. And sometimes, he favors letting fires burn. It’s part of the natural ecology of the forest, he said. The white pines, for instance, reproduce only during fires, when their seed pods explode in the heat.
“Instead of fighting fire, making peace with fire,” Mr. Castellnou said.
LHC BANS PLASTIC BAGS AT MEGA STORES
The Newspaper’s Staff Reporter Updated February 08, 2020
LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Friday banned use of plastic bags at all mega stores in the provincial metropolis and gave them 15-day deadline to comply with the order and switch to alternative shopping bags.
Justice Shahid Karim passed the order on an application moved by Haroon Farooq seeking a direction to the Punjab government to legislate on banning use, manufacture and sale of polythene bags and introduce a necessary legislation in this regard.
During the hearing, petitioner’s counsel Barrister Abuzar Salman Niazi told the court that in October 2019, the provincial chief secretary had given an undertaking to a full bench in a separate case that the government would introduce law on prohibition of polythene bags. However, he said, nothing had been done so far by the government.
He argued that the acts and omissions of the government were in clear violation of Article 9 and 14 of the Constitution, which deal with fundamental rights of citizens.
The counsel contended that being most thickly populated province, the polythene bags were used in Punjab in great variety and huge numbers.
As per the latest research of local and international organisations, he said, the polythene bags were found to have been a cause of major environment disasters.
He explained to the court that these bags, irrespective of thickness, could cause sewerage system damage, spread of diseases/epidemics, soil pollution, water pollution, floods, eventually leading to severe environment pollution and human health hazards in both urban and rural areas of Punjab.
He said the plastic bags were not only dangerous for human health but also hazardous to animal and aquatic life.
He pointed out that the stores run by cantonment boards had already abandoned plastic bags and switched to rags.
Barrister Niazi asked the court to direct the provincial government to immediately ban manufacturing, sale and usage of polythene bags in the province and to introduce a new legislation providing for a complete ban.
After hearing the arguments, Justice Karim observed that the plastic bags were a major cause of environment pollution.
As a first step, the judge restrained all mega stores from using plastic bags and switch to environment friendly material within 15 days. He also directed a law officer to ensure compliance of the order and adjourned hearing till the next Friday.
Promotion: The Lahore High Court on Friday sought replies from Punjab chief secretary and other respondents on a petition by a communication & works department’s superintendent engineer against denial of promotion in BS-20.
Petitioner Abdul Khaliq submitted through a counsel that he had been treated discriminatory by the authorities as several officers junior to him had been promoted since 2016. He alleged that he had been denied promotion for not having any political backing.
Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti directed the respondents to submit their replies by next week.
Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2020
GLOBAL WARMING TO BLAME FOR HOTTEST DAY IN ARGENTINE ANTARCTICA
By AFP Published: February 8, 2020
BUENOS AIRES: Global warming is to blame for Argentine Antarctica recording its hottest day since readings began, Greenpeace said on Friday.
Temperatures climbed to 18.3 degrees Celsius (64.9 degrees Fahrenheit) at midday Thursday at the research station Esperanza base, the highest temperature on record since 1961, according to the National Meteorological Service.
The new record is “of course shocking but unfortunately not surprising because Antarctica is warming up with the rest of the planet,” said Frida Bengtsson, marine environment specialist for Greenpeace, in a statement.
At Marambio, another Argentine base in Antarctica, temperatures reached 14.1 degrees Celsius on Thursday, the hottest temperature for a day in February since 1971.
The news comes after a decade of record temperatures on the planet and 2019 that was the second hottest year since registers have been kept.
And the new decade has begun along the same tendency, with last month the hottest January on record.
The effects of global warming have already seen ocean levels rise due to melting ice caps.
The two largest ice caps on the planet, in Antarctica and Greenland, have already lost an average of a combined 430 billion tons a year since 2006.
According to UN climate experts, the oceans rose 15 centimetres during the 20th century.
It’s a threat to coastal towns and small islands the world over.
One of the largest glaciers in Antarctica is the Thwaites glacier, which is the size of Britain.
Scientists say that if it melted it would raise sea levels by 65 centimetres.
“Over the last 30 years, the amount of ice melting off Thwaites and adjacent glaciers has nearly doubled,” said the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration group of scientists in a statement.
Argentina has had a presence in Antarctica for the past 114 years, including several scientific research bases, and is also a signatory of the Antarctic Treaty, which came into force in June 1961 and prohibits any militarisation of the continent.
CM BUZDAR DISSATISFIED WITH WASTE MANAGEMENT AUTHORITIES
By Imran Adnan Published: February 9, 2020
LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar is unhappy over poor performance of waste management authorities in big cities of the province, including Lahore, The Express Tribune learnt on Saturday.
An official communiqué indicates that the chief minister recently sought a report on the state of cleanliness in Lahore, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi and Multan. The special report highlights that all major cities are facing challenges in disposing of the waste.
It points out that a number of people die each year owing to diseases caused by lack of proper waste disposal. It estimates that roughly 20 million tonnes of solid waste is generated in the country in a year, with an annual growth rate of 2.4%.
The report identifies the root causes of the worsening garbage problem as lack of urban planning, institutional capacity and public awareness, obsolete infrastructure and corruption in waste management institutions.
It states that the field staff of a law-enforcement agency had conducted a survey in all the five cites for three days in January to check cleanliness and waste management. In most cases, the cleanliness conditions were unsatisfactory and heaps of garbage and waste were found lying unattended in almost all urban and suburban areas of the cities, polluting environment and spreading diseases.
It pointed out that although solid waste management policies did exist for all big cites, they were not enforced properly. The public sector workers serving in municipal institutions are neither trained properly nor have knowledge of waste management techniques and practices.
The report highlights that though the government has introduced a proper waste collection system, garbage is dumped on streets and at open places due to lack of awareness among people and negligence of the waste management departments.
It also indicates that citizens are not fully aware of the relationship between reckless waste disposal and resulting environmental and public health hazards.
The report points out that there is no system of segregation or collection of different types of solid waste separately. Controlled sanitary landfill sites are rare and open burning of garbage is common.
Reacting over the report, the Punjab Local Governmentand Community Development Department has directed the managing directors of all waste management companies and chief officers of metropolitan corporations, municipal committees, Tehsil councils and town committees to launch special sanitation campaigns with special focus on elimination of stray dogs and quick disposal of the carcass in a safe way.
The government spends billions of rupees annually on cleanliness and waste collection from urban areas. To improve sanitary conditions inmajor cities, the government has also set up the Lahore, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Rawalpindi, Multan and Bahawalpur waste management companies, but the situation is not satisfactory yet, apparently because of non-professional management and unskilled workforce.
Buzdar on various occasions has expressed dissatisfaction over the performances of the LWMC and other waste management companies. In a recent meeting, he ordered the companies to improvetheir performance in Lahore and other cities, as well as to launch special cleanliness campaigns.
The chief minister stressed that special attention should be paid to cleanliness of cities and lamented presence of waste despite the funds provided for its disposal. He said work should be done in an organized manner to improve the cleanliness arrangements. The presence of heaps of garbage on the roads of the provincial capital was a question mark over the performance of the LWMC, he said.