NEWS COVERAGE PERIOD FROM JAN 27 TO FEB 02, 2020
KMC RESPONSIBLE FOR CLEANING CITY, NOT US, SAYS ISMAIL
By Our Correspondent Published: January 27, 2020
KARACHI: The Karachi Municipal Corporation (KMC) is responsible for cleaning the city, stated Sindh Governor Imran Ismail on Sunday, adding that all he could do was to give suggestions to the agency.
He expressed these views while talking to the media after distributing blankets to impoverished families at Punjab Ground in Shah Faisal Colony. He was accompanied by MNA Fahim Khan, his wife and others.
Ismail further claimed that eliminating encroachments from the city and providing alternative accommodation or employment to those evicted in anti-encroachment campaigns was the responsibility of the city mayor.
Discussing the relationship between the federal government and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), he said that despite the resignation of MQM-P convenor Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui from his federal ministry, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) still had good relations with the other party.
“MQM-P is an ally and will remain so,” he asserted, adding that there could be progress in matters relating to the party with Prime Minister Imran Khan visiting the metropolis today (Monday). “The issues should be resolved through mutual understanding.”
Informing the media about Khan’s schedule for his visit, he said that the PM would arrive in Karachi at 2:30pm and have lunch with him and a number of MPAs. In a meeting at the Governor House, he will be briefed about federal projects pertaining to the metropolis, while the organisation of the PTI in Sindh will also be discussed.
Following this, Khan would meet Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and then representatives of traders associations. Ismail said that the prime minister would also distribute loan cheques to applicants from across Sindh for the Kamyab Nojawan project, and then attend a fund-raising ceremony for the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital.
He is also scheduled to meet Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) chief Pir Pagara at Kingri House, where both leaders are to discuss the political situation of the country and the GDA’s concerns.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 27th, 2020.
FIVE EFFLUENT TREATMENT PLANTS TO BE SET UP IN KARACHI
By Our Correspondent Published: January 28, 2020
KARACHI: The Sindh Industries Department, in collaboration with the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board, will establish five effluent treatment plants in Karachi at a cost of Rs18.143 billion, announced Sindh Industries and Commerce Minister Jam Ikramullah Dharejo.
Talking to a delegation of industrialists led by SITE Association president Salman Chawla at his office on Monday, Dharejo said that the treatment plants would be set up in SITE, Federal B Area, SITE Super Highway, Landhi/Korangi and Lyari.
“The objective of establishing these effluent treatment plants is to avoid the contamination of natural water bodies, soil, agriculture crops, and other natural water resources,” he said, adding that the Sindh government was invested in resolving the issues faced by industrial zones, in order to boost industrial activity in the province.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 28th, 2020.
SINDH GOVT TO ENSURE TREE PLANTATION IN NEW DEVELOPMENTAL PROJECTS
By PPI Published: January 28, 2020
KARACHI: The plantation of trees should be compulsory in all the new and on-going development projects carried out by the provincial government, said Sindh Local Government and Forests Minister Nasir Hussain Shah.
Chairing a meeting of the heads of different municipal agencies in Sindh, he said that the government would not grant permission for new projects until the executors ensure tree plantation as well.
Shah stated that the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) would also ensure that new building projects across the province made provisions for tree plantation.
Meanwhile, the local government secretary, Roshan Ali Shaikh, apprised the attendees that a plan has been chalked out by the Sindh Local Government Department to hold plantation drives at 4,000 different spots in the province.
“Certain portions of public parks in the province will be reserved so that non-governmental organizations can carry out plantation campaigns there to uplift the status of these parks,” he stated, adding that the implementation of the plan will start soon.
National Forum for Environment and Health president Naeem Qureshi, who was one of the participants of the meeting, said that the government should embrace policies such as adopt-a-park and public-private partnerships to improve the condition of public parks in Sindh.
“The corporate sector and different community groups can play an important role in this regard,” said Qureshi. “Apart from the plantation campaigns, there should be a complete ban on cutting trees all over the province,” he maintained, adding that the authorities should focus on protecting the existing trees as well.
During the meeting, a committee was constituted to prevent the cutting of mangroves in the coastal areas of Sindh, comprising Qureshi, the West district deputy commissioner and other relevant officials. Shah asked the officials to immediately start taking action, including registering criminal cases, against those involved in cutting down trees in Sindh.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 28th, 2020.
SEPA SEALS FIVE FACTORIES FOR FLOUTING ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS
RECORDER REPORT January 31, 2020
KARACHI: Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) on Thursday claimed to have sealed five factories in Korangi Industrial Area for not complying with Sindh Environmental Protection Act 2014, while cases of another two factories have been forwarded to the concerned court for action.
SEPA officials said the sealed five factories were polluting the environment and the action has been taken on directives of Advisor to CM Sindh for Law, Environment, Climate Change and Coastal Development, Barrister Murtuza Wahab.
Sharing details of the factories they said M/s Jena Dying, M/s Hamid Dying and M/s Ibrar Dying were sealed due to generating wastewater while M/s Thermoline for generating air emissions and M/s Baba Shop for using smoky generator were shut down.
Moreover, on violation of Section 14 of the Sindh Environmental Protection Act 2014, the cases of M/s Indus Printing Press and M/s Shapur Apparel were forwarded to Judicial Magistrate on account of open burning of solid waste.
Advisor on Environment Barrister Murtuza Wahab has said in a statement that across-the-board action will be continuing against polluting factories because pollution also harms the environment and human beings without any discrimination.
He urged the industries and developmental institutions to comply with Sindh Environmental Protection Act 2014 so that the wheel of progress and development may be continuing without harming our natural environment.
CLEANLINESS: LWMC TAKES CHARGE AMID COMPLAINTS
OUR CORRESPONDENT January 31, 2020
ISLAMABAD. As citizens complained about mounds of garbage and litter in different areas, the Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC) took over the charge of cleanliness and waste management in the provincial capital on Thursday following the completion of Turkish companies’ contract.
Information made available to The Express Tribune showed that as Turkish waste management companies Albayrak and OzPak are completing their seven-year contract term on January 31 (today), the LWMC management has taken charge of cleanliness operations in the city.
Sources indicate the LWMC has already started routine cleanliness operations, including mechanical sweeping, in various areas of the provincial capital but owing to non-availability of sufficient resources the company has suspended the roads washing operation. Earlier, Turkish companies were washing around 900 kilometres of roads as per their agreements.
For the past couple of weeks, dust, dirt and water pools in the low-lying areas have become a major concern for citizens. These conditions are increasing spread of diseases in the city amid poor cleanliness arrangements in the metropolis.
LWMC Director General Operations Sohail Anwar said the routine work of mechanical sweeping had now been taken over by the company. He highlighted that the company had already floated tenders for the procurement of waste management services and soon new companies would take over the charge
Four private companies, Albayrak, OzPak, Popular Goods and Waste Buster, have contacted the LWMC for the waste management contract, but no agreement has been finalised.
A new contract of Rs2 billion for the management of 936,277-tonne waste of the city is expected in a few days.
A small foundry owner, Muhammad Imran, said there were mud and slurry on all roads and street in his neighbourhood of Mominpur. “Waste bins are overflowing and spreading awful smell in the entire area, but no government agency is available to lift the garbage,” he said.
Another citizen, Abdul Rehman, said the government agencies had their focus on the cleanliness of model roads and posh localities in the city.
“Neither Turkish companies nor the LWMC has ever paid attention to the cleanliness of this area. If a government department or a non-governmental organisation conduct a medical screening, they would know that the entire population of the northern part of the city is suffering from various diseases owing to the negligence of government departments,” he lamented.
Muhammad Irfan, a citizen coming out of a mosque in Siraj Park area, complained that it was impossible to reach the mosque for prayers with clean clothes in the rainy season.
“The entire area is flooded with mud and dirt. The sewerage system of the area has been choked and muddy water is oozing everywhere on streets,” he said while pointing towards an overflowing skip outside the Government Boys School, Monminpura.
“This overflowing garbage bin speaks volumes about the performance of the Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) government and its departments.
It cannot happen anywhere in the world that waste collectors have parked a stinking garbage container right beside the main gate of the government school.”
Similar complaints were also made by several other citizens from Township, Green Town, Kot Lakhpat, Chungi Amer Sidhu, Daroghawala, Salamatpura, China Scheme, Singhpura, Misri Shah and other underprivileged areas of the provincial metropolis.
Citizens appealed to Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar and the LWMC to pay attention to their neighbourhoods too, especially after rains.
Editorial February 01, 2020
FOR centuries, mangroves have acted as custodians of the coastline: they protected the land from soil erosion, prevented flooding, and moderated temperatures. Additionally, they anchored entire ecosystems that depended on them to flourish; this in turn supported the fishing communities of Sindh and Balochistan. However, some of the discontents of modernity and rapid urbanisation have wreaked havoc on the centuries-old, natural way of life, community and business. Mangrove forests are chopped down for wood by timber and other industries that use them for firewood; they are mowed down by short-sighted land and real-estate mafias; and they are dying an early death from pollution, the lack of freshwater flowing into Sindh and the resulting high levels of salinity in the water. In an age of extreme weather and changing climate patterns, with a greater threat of natural disasters striking the coastal communities, the need for safeguarding mangroves could not be more urgent. After all, Pakistan is among the countries most vulnerable to the long-term effects of global climate change. And yet, according to experts, mangroves continue to be cut down due to the greed or ignorance of some. This is a good time as any to remember and pay homage to two environmental activists — Abdul Ghani and Haji Abu Bakar of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum — who were gunned down when they tried to file a public interest petition against the cutting down of mangroves in their village by powerful groups in 2011.
This week, the National Coordinating Body of the Mangroves for the Future Programme Pakistan underscored the importance of developing a plan to declare Charna Island a marine-protected area. In 2018, the clear waters surrounding the island had been marred by an oil spill. While the Sindh Forest department has taken steps to carry out extensive mangrove plantation drives in the past, there is less effort going into the preservation of existing forests and the biodiversity they support. Much more needs to be done to reverse the damage.
Published in Dawn, February 1st, 2020
WILDFIRE CREATES STATE OF EMERGENCY IN AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL
AP Updated February 01, 2020
Canberra: A wildfire threatening property glows on hills south of the Australian capital on Friday.—AP
CANBERRA: The Australian capital region declared a state of emergency on Friday because of an out-of-control forest fire burning erratically to its south.
It’s the first fire emergency for the Australian Capital Territory area since 2003 when wildfires killed four people and destroyed almost 500 homes in a single day.
The threat is posed by a blaze on Canberra’s southern fringe that has razed more than 21,500 hectares (53,000 acres) since it was sparked by heat from a military helicopter landing light on Monday, the Emergency Services Agency said.
The state of emergency sets a clear expectation for our community that we need you to be vigilant, Emergency Services Minister Mick Gentleman told reporters. This is the worst bushfire season in the ACT since 2003.
The fire is burning at emergency level — the highest on a three-tier scale of danger — and embers have created dangerous spot fires nearby, agency officials said.
Residents of southern Canberra suburbs and surrounding villages have been advised to prepare to either protect their homes or evacuate.
Roads were blocked to the village of Tharwa late Friday because the fire posed too much danger for residents to evacuate or return to their homes.
The fire is the most dangerous of dozens of blazes burning Australia’s drought-stricken southeast.
Unprecedented fires across southern Australia have claimed at least 33 lives since September, destroyed more than 3,000 homes and razed more than 10.6 million hectares (26.2 million acres).
The fire danger is forecast to escalate across the southeast in the Australian Capital Territory and the states of New South Wales and Victoria as summer temperatures rise over the weekend.
The state of emergency gives Canberra’s local government additional powers to block roads, direct peoples movements, control their property and undertake firefighting work on private land.
Published in Dawn, February 1st, 2020
TOKYO CONSIDERS RELEASING WATER FROM TSUNAMI-HIT N-PLANT INTO SEA
AP Updated February 01, 2020
TOKYO: A Japanese government panel on Friday roughly accepted a draft proposal for releasing into the sea massive amounts of radioactive water now being stored at the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant.
The economy and industry ministry’s draft proposal said releasing the water gradually into the sea was the safer, more feasible method, though evaporation was also a proven method. The proposal in coming weeks will be submitted to the government for further discussion to decide when and how the water should be released.
Nearly nine years after the 2011 meltdowns of three reactor cores at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Plant, it was a small step toward deciding what to do with the water and follows expert recommendations.
It is meant to solve a growing problem for the plant’s operator stuck between limited storage space for the water and an imminent backlash from the public and possibly neighboring countries.
Fishermen and residents fear possible health effects from releasing the radioactive water as well as harm to the region’s image and fishing and farm industry.
The water has been treated, and the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., says all 62 radioactive elements it contains can be removed to levels not harmful to humans, except for tritium. Experts say there is no established method to fully separate tritium from water, but it is not a problem in small amounts. Government officials also say tritium is routinely released from existing nuclear power plants around the world.
In Friday’s proposal, the ministry said the controlled release to the sea is superior because its traveling route is predictable
and easier to sample and monitor. The method, however, could immensely impact Fukushima’s still struggling fishing industry.
The report acknowledges the water releases would harm industries that still face reluctant consumers despite diligent safety checks. It promised to reinforce monitoring of tritium levels and food safety checks in order to address safety concerns.
TEPCO currently stores about 1.2 million tons of radioactive water and only has space to hold up to 1.37 million tons, or until the summer of 2022. The water leakage of cooling water from damaged reactors mixed with contaminated groundwater has accumulated since the accident.
The report ruled out long-term storage outside the plant a method favored by many Fukushima residents. It cited difficulties obtaining permission from landowners and transportation challenges, as well as the risk of leakage from corrosion, a tsunami or other disasters and accidents.
Published in Dawn, February 1st, 2020
WWF-P STRESSES NEED TO END ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE
9:45 / 01.02.2020
Chinese government’s decision to temporarily ban the sale of wildlife in markets, restaurants and online and stressed the need to end the illegal wildlife trade.
Expressing deep sadness at the loss of lives in the crisis in a press statement released on Friday, the WWF-P pointed out that the coronavirus was a zoonotic disease, normally found in wildlife, which had mutated in an environment where there was contact with people, adapting to allow human transmission.
“This public health crisis is a wakeup call,” said WWF-P director general Hammad Naqi Khan. “If we don’t eliminate poaching and illegal wildlife trade in endangered animals and their parts, as bushmeat, for perceived medicinal value, or as pets, there will always be the threat of this kind of epidemic in the future.”
The statement, mentioning the visible impacts of the trade on wildlife populations and global biodiversity, said that the spread of coronavirus, as well as outbreaks of SARS and MERS in recent years, underscored the need for urgent action and awareness about the potential threats it posed to human health.
While the trade of many species of wildlife is prohibited or strictly regulated, the enforcement of laws in illegal wildlife markets in the region is weak. The absence of controls, said WWF-P, makes these activities a threat to people and domestic animals, potentially affecting local and global communities and economies. “Wildlife markets can potentially provide a conducive environment for this type of viral mutation,” the statement added.
Although Pakistan is not a major wildlife consumer, it is an important source and transit point for many such consignments headed to East Asian countries, according to WWF-P. Moreover, there are illegal wildlife markets in nearly all the major cities of Pakistan, dealing in the trade of protected and endangered species, their parts and products.
The NGO also highlighted the increase in the number of private zoos, aviaries and exotic pets as a cause of concern, claiming that there are over 300 private zoos in Punjab and Sindh, running without monitoring or regulation.
It added that it would work closely with governments to strengthen laws and engage public health sectors, with the aim of permanently ending the illegal wildlife trade.
NEWS COVERAGE PERIOD FROM JAN 20 TO JAN 26, 2020
HEAVY FINES PROPOSED FOR HARMING ENVIRONMENT IN GALIYAT
Bureau Report January 26, 2020
PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is set to introduce heavy fines for littering and sanitation and sewerage offences in tourist destinations of Galiyat area by amending the law to keep such places clean and preserve their environment.
The government has prepared the Galiyat Development Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which is scheduled to be tabled in the provincial assembly on Monday.
Through the proposed law, the government intends to make drastic changes to the Galiyat Development Authority Act, 2016, and incorporate a schedule of offences and fines in the law. It is meant to declare littering an offence punishable by a fine of Rs5,000.
The said schedule carries 38 offences some of which will be punishable by a fine up to Rs1 million. Any violation of the sewerage and sanitation regulations will be punishable by a fine from Rs10,000 to Rs1 million.
The authorities had introduced nominal fines in Galiyat areas in the last summer season without legal backing.
Govt to table bill for purpose in PA tomorrow
Now, the government has decided to impose heavy fines in an attempt to discourage visitors from littering and other activities, which threaten environment.
The offences mentioned in the amendments will be cognisable and non-bailable.
The amended law defines littering as all waste material, refuse, cans, bottles, garbage, trash, debris, dead animals or other discarded materials of every kind and description which are hazardous to environment.
For the first time, such heavy fines have been suggested in the province to keep tourist places clean.
Section 28 (1) of the amended law says where an officer of the authority, authorized by the director general, is of the opinion that any person, who contravenes the provision of this act, relating to offences as specified in the schedule, appended to this act, shall charge the accuse by issuing a ticket, in the form as specified by authority, for payment of fine, as provided in the schedule.
The amended law will empower the authorised officer to impose fine of Rs10,000 to Rs1 million on sewerage, sanitation and other violations in the jurisdiction of Galiyat.
The bill suggest Rs3,000 fine on loud playing of music or radio, beating of drum or tom-tom, blowing, a horn or beating or sounding instruments or utensils in contravention of any general or special prohibition issued by the authority or a hospital or an educational institution.
The fine imposed on slaughtering of animals for the sale of meat at a place other than the place set a part for the purpose is Rs12,000. Keeping ferocious dogs or other animals in residential area or taking such animals to public places or the areas specified by the authority, without leash or chain and without being muzzled or set at large any animal or dog infected with rabies or any other infectious disease has been declared an offence, while the fine fixed for it is Rs2,000.
The bill proposes Rs50,000 fine for obstructing or tampering with any main pipe, meter or any apparatus or appliance for the supply of water or sewerage system. Similarly, a fine of Rs500,000 will be imposed on illegal installation or alteration of the water supply line in the area. The bill also proposes Rs25,000 fine on the non-disposal of building materials and debris, Rs20,000 on construction of illegal speed breaker on public roads and streets and Rs3,000 on loud shouting in abusive language causing distress to the inhabitants of the neighborhood or village or any other public place.
The government is also likely to introduce the Kaghan Development Authority Bill, 2020, in the assembly on Monday with an aim to develop Kaghan valley and other adjacent areas of Mansehra district.
Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2020
NEWS COVERAGE PERIOD FROM JAN 13 TO JAN 19,2020
GOVT ISSUES SPECIAL PERMIT FOR EXPORT OF 150 RARE FALCONS TO DUBAI
Bhagwandas Updated January 13, 2020
KARACHI: The federal government has issued special permit to Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum for the export of 150 rare falcons from Pakistan to Dubai during 2019-20 season, it is learnt reliably.
According to highly placed sources, the highly rare falcons species — saker and peregrine — are used by Arab hunters to hunt the internationally protected houbara bustard.
The sources said that Arabs needed some young falcons so that they could hunt houbara bustards more efficiently.
Residents of the colder Central Asian region, houbara bustards to avoid harsh weather conditions in their habitat migrate every year southwards to spend the winter in a relatively warmer environment in Pakistan.
Falcons are protected under various international nature conservation conventions, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES). Trade in falcons is banned under local wildlife protection laws.
The sources said that in the absence of legally trapped falcons and legal wildlife (falcon) traders “falcon exporters” purchase illegally trapped falcons from wildlife traders operating in the black underground wildlife markets.
They said the export of rare falcons to Dubai would encourage illegal wildlife trade in the country.
The sources said that the trans-boundary movement of falcons was monitored closely by the Switzerland-based CITES and Pakistan is a signatory to that convention and has to follow it.
The sources said that besides violating various international nature conservation agreements as well as local wildlife protection laws the government by issuing falcon export permit to the Dubai ruler was also putting at risk the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Plus status given to it by the European Union under which its exports have easy access to highly lucrative multi-billion European market.
According to them, Pakistan has to observe international nature conservation treaties and if it violates these agreements the European Union, which regularly reviews the GSP Plus status given to countries to see if they are following these agreements, could strip off that facility which could seriously affect foreign exchange earnings of the country.
The sources said that the request for issuance of the export permit for 150 falcons was sent by the UAE Embassy in Islamabad and subsequently the foreign ministry’s deputy chief of protocol Mohammad Adeel Pervaiz issued and sent the export permit (No: DCP(P&I) 2019 — 20 Falcons/UAE) to the UAE Embassy in the federal capital. The permit says that 150 falcons could be exported for the vice president and the prime minister of the UAE.
The sources said that a few days back Mr Pervaiz, also issued a special permit to Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to export 200 falcons to Qatar during season 2019-20 so that he could also change his aged falcon flock with the younger ones.
Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2020
K-P MAY USE LAWS TO CURB SWAT RIVER POLLUTION
By Our Correspondent Published: January 13, 2020
PESHAWAR: With provincial government banking on tourism and industrialisation to lift militancy-hit regions such as Swat out of poverty, the issue of environmental degradation in the valley, including from some of these very sectors, has Peshawar concerned.
The government has now suggested that it could turn to the assembly to help control environmental issues in the scenic valley.
This was suggested by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Chief Minister Mahmood Khan on Sunday as he presided over a meeting on the matter at the CM House.
Mahmood, who hails from Swat, directed officials to take immediate preventive measures to control environmental degradation in the district. The chief minister further ordered the relevant authorities to conduct a proper scientific study on the environment in the district for the purpose and to hire a firm with a good reputation for conducting the study.
To help reduce, man-made environmental challenges, he said that a massive awareness campaign regarding environmental degradation must be carried out in Swat
“Rapid deterioration of the environment is an alarming situation, now is the time to act as there is no space for further delays,” he added.
In this regard, he directed the Swat district administration to involve all forms of media along with mosques, hujras and other relevant forums and stakeholders for creating awareness on the impacts of environmental degradation.
He also stressed on establishing a proper development authority in Swat and to ensure the implementation of the National Forest Policy 2015.
The chief minister agreed with the need for legislation regarding the protection of Swat River and filtration of industrial and hotel waste in the scenic valley.
During the meeting, Mahmood was informed that the major environmental issues in Swat include air pollution, water contamination, soil erosion, deforestation, population explosion, urbanisation, industrialisation, wanton use of plastic bags, noise pollution and climate change. Deforestation has also emerged as a major problem recently with forests being denuded to make way for agricultural, commercial and other developmental activities. This adds to the damage caused to forests in the valley during militancy.
Moreover, the meeting was told that there are approximately 38 marble factories and 350 hotels in the area while a few industries have been set up. Of the hotels operating in the valley, 102 of them are located along the banks of the Swat River. These hotels, the chief minister was informed, dump their waste and sewage into the river. As a result, some
117 hotel owners in the valley were served with notices from the environmental protection body last June.
Regarding dumping of untreated sewerage into the river, Mahmood was informed that the government was still collecting data about it, however, data from Matta — a sub-division of Swat — showed that there were as many as 1,450 sewerage lines which empty into the river. Of these lines, 126 have been removed.
The chief minister was informed that rapid urbanisation and industrialisation in the district was another major cause of environmental degradation. The urban population in Swat, he was told, has doubled from just 190,000 in 1998 to 690,000 in 2017. The population of the district has increased from 1.2 million in 2998 to 2.31 million in 2017.
The main reason for this explosion in population is the absence of basic amities, officials explained.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2020.
‘QUALITATIVE DATA EXTREMELY IMPORTANT IN TACKLING AIR QUALITY’
By Imran Adnan Published: January 14, 2020
LAHORE: With enhanced monitoring, accountable data, effective enforcement of environmental laws and learning from the global best practices can help in solving air quality, smog and pollution issues in Pakistan.
Wisconsin Laboratory of Hygiene and Peterson-Radar-Hawnn Director Dr James J Schauer, made these recommendations while speaking to The Express Tribune on Monday. He underlined that it was really important to put efforts in air quality monitoring to understand sources of atmospheric particulate matter (PM2.5).
“We conducted a year-long study in collaboration with the University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Lahore in 2007-08 and found that mobile sources have a major impact in PM2.5 atmospheric pollution, besides burning of biomass and a smaller amount of dust,” he said.
The study also highlighted that some of the PM2.5 sources also include gas emissions that create new particles as a result of chemical reactions and there is a seasonality in pollution patterns.
The PM2.5 is very fine particles of dust and other harmful elements of less than 2.5 micrometres that have tendency to stay longer in the air due to their small size and lightweight and increase chances of humans and animals inhaling them into their bodies because particles of such small diameter can bypass nose and throat and penetrate deep into the lungs and some may even enter the circulatory system.
Dr Schauer said though there were similarities in major sources of atmospheric air pollution in most developing countries, it is hard to generalise because of seasonality and composition.
“It all depends on industrial and human activities. But I believe in many developing countries vehicles are an important source of air pollution. In certain parts of the world people also burns solid fuels that also cause PM2.5 atmospheric air pollution, especially when the weather is colder,” he pointed out.
Responding to a question about cross-border air pollution in the provincial capital, the US Science Envoy for Air Quality said: “I can’t give you the quantitative answer about relative trans-boundary [air pollution] issue but it is important that we, the scientific community, do study to understand the issue. We have learnt from various studies that solving the wrong problem does not help anybody. Actually, we need more data to quantify the exact sources of pollution. It is not reasonable if we blame only one source as the wind blows both ways,” he maintained.
Responding to another question, he pointed out that two kinds of monitoring were required to understand the problem. One of them is pollution concentration and the other is its chemical composition to interpret the exact sources and causes and not much is being done in data collection and interpretation.
There is really a need to do more in this area as it is happening in the US and other parts of the world.
He also underlined the need of developing a regional strategy, learning from the experience of other cities in developed and developing countries that have been effectively managing air quality and understanding the latest technologies to control the causes of air pollution.
“I don’t think we need huge resources; a few dozen monitoring sites can help in gathering qualitative data. We need more investment in the idea of source attribution and source rapprochement to understanding more about the solution. It is not necessary to have thousands or even hundreds of monitors. We might have a dozen monitoring sites in the US and there might be a few supplementary sites as well,” he indicated.
Answering another question, Dr Schauer said it is very important to have policies to make higher quality fuel and it should be certainly an important strategy for going forward. “I think, it’s not only the fuel but pairing of high-tech vehicles with high-quality fuels together and those have to have happened. You can’t move forward without advanced vehicles and high-quality fuels,” he said.
He pointed out that there were very well-established technologies that could reduce emissions. “In the US, we burn a lot of coal and a lot of petroleum but we require them to have adequate emission control technology. As we think about the long term considering climate change, we certainly want to think about renewable energy and clean technologies. But in the short term we need to focus on appropriate controls,” he maintained.’
Responding to a question about increased forest cover, he said trees help create a barrier and reducing pollution exposure but it is really difficult to remove pollution from the air. He also highlighted the need for establishing partnerships between academia, government, industry and civil society.
He said lowering barriers, sharing data and enhanced partnership will help to solve problems.
Dr Schauer has been a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the College of Engineering since 1998 and holds the position of Peterson-Radar-Hawnn Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. As a Science Envoy for Air Quality, Dr Schauer highlights American scientific strategies and technologies for mitigating poor air quality, with a focus on South Asia.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2020.
‘LAHORE NEEDS AIR QUALITY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM TO FIGHT SMOG’
Ahsan Raza Updated January 15, 2020
Dr James Schauer. When it comes to air pollution control, the focus is on the technological intervention to resolve the issue, but very little attention is being paid on social interventions, which can also help fight pollution to a great extent.
“When we talk about social interventions for cleaner air, it is about people’s role in controlling pollution like waste management, solid waste burning control etc,” says environment engineer Dr James Schauer, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.
Dr Schauer was in Lahore on a brief tour to interact with policymakers, government representatives and students and the people for an exchange of ideas on air pollution and to find common grounds to counter the menace in Pakistan.
“We need to educate the public about how their role is important in the fight against pollution. They should know the impact of burning waste at home; they should know how the crop [stubble] burning can pollute the environment.”
About Lahore smog, he said, crop stubble burning by farmers to reclaim the land for new crop could be one source of air pollution. “But, most of the pollution sources are local. Vehicle-emitted pollution, industry emissions, house and solid waste burning — the local sources of air pollution are endless.”
So, the people of Lahore should focus more on social as well as technological interventions to achieve a cleaner air regime.
Dr Schauer stresses on having in place air quality management systems to find the right solutions.
Elaborating air quality management system, he says there is a need to have programmes to monitor air pollution, and more importantly to understand its sources and to quantify air pollution data. These are a major steps in air pollution management.
So far Lahore is concerned, it has placed, though insufficient, only air quality monitoring systems.
“These monitoring tolls tell us how bad the air pollution is and pollution in terms of indexes but they do not tell us where it comes from, and of what type and source. At the end of day, these monitors don’t help us to form regulations,” said the expert.
To Dr Schaeur, data collection is a key to devise an effective air pollution management strategy. “It will help us [in determining] what should we be focusing on and it is [also] a way of validating if we have a policy and if our policies are effective.”
Once we know about what the sources of air pollution are, we can have effective policies.
But, some sources of pollution are no more a secret.
“We all know that vehicles emit smoke and pollute the air; we know about industry emissions, dust and burning of fossil and solid fuels are the pollutants.”
“Having quantitative data gives us a push towards reliable solutions,” he said, giving the example of US, where data helped the government to fight air pollution despite having enormous industry and vehicle emissions.
“In the US, we burn a lot of fossil fuel but we have clean air … that has been made possible by putting in place emission control technologies, that have been made possible by finding data and then right solutions, not wrong solutions.”
Dr Schauer proves with scientific data that having clean technology does not destroy the economy. “Instead, it improves the economy. For example, health benefits of air pollution control can be enormous and improve overall economy.”
He sees air pollution as the most pressing issue of the day. He supports a proactive approach to fight air pollution through collaboration between scientists, the public, policymakers and industry because “air matters every time; this is what we breathe every time.”
Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2020
PEOPLE NEED TO BACK STATE’S EFFORTS TO COMBAT ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGES: CM’S ADVISER
From the Newspaper January 15, 2020
KARACHI: Governments cannot address environmental issues and challenges alone; they always need support from the masses. The laws can be introduced and implemented by governments but if society does not adopt them in letter and spirit then goals cannot be achieved.
These views were expressed by Murtaza Wahab, the adviser to chief minister Sindh for the environment, during a one-day seminar on sustainable solutions towards population growth and environmental degradation held at the University of Karachi on Tuesday, says a press release.
The department of sociology and KU’s Institute of Environmental Studies arranged the day-long event at the Arts Auditorium in collaboration with Global Green, an NGO.
“I was very hopeful when the bill against plastic bags was introduced in the province. But owing to lukewarm response and support from the public, we still [have] not achieved the desired results. The people should support the cause and participate in making Sindh clean and green.”
He asked the audience to point out problems they were facing in their neighbourhoods and approach the Sindh government so that those issues could be resolved on a priority basis. He said that the provincial government is seriously working on increasing the number of trees in Sindh and set a “world record” by planting the largest number of mangroves in the coastal belts of the province on two different occasions.
Murtaza Wahab added that the provincial government has planted more than 50,000 plants just in three months. Sindh government is also going to initiate waste management pilot project in upcoming days and due to financial issues, the provincial government would seek help from the private sector.
Meanwhile, acting KU Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Khalid Mahmood Iraqi said as a nation we should follow the law of the land as governments could not provide facilities without the support and backing of the masses.
The KU VC mentioned that solid waste, garbage and filthy roads are commonly seen in the city. “We have chopped down trees and spread buildings across the city without realising how much it will affect the environment. This is the right time to come up with policies which discourage high-rise buildings at every corner of the city.”
He shared that since August 16, 2019, the KU has planted around 50,000 plants in different locations of the varsity. Professor Dr Moazzam Ali Khan of Institute of Environment Studies claimed that Karachi and Lahore are now considered among the most populated cities across the globe.
“Karachi is facing severe water, air, marine pollution, and solid waste material is spread all over the city due to which it has lost its carrying capacity.” He said that over 80 per cent of the water supply to the city is contaminated and unfit for human consumption.
Professor Dr Nabeel Ahmed Zubairi of department of sociology observed that majority of the population of the city is facing respiratory problems mainly due to air and water pollution.
He said that every citizen should fulfil his or her responsibilities and practically support government departments so that civic issues could be addressed at the earliest.
Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2020
KENJHAR LAKE REEKS OF CHEMICAL CONTAMINATION
RECORDER REPORT January 16, 2020
KARACHI: Provincial Minister for Industries and Commerce & Cooperative Department Jam Ikramuallah Dharejo has said that Kenjhar Lake is a beautiful place of Sindh and the safety of Kenjhar Lake is one of our top priorities.
Taking the notice of report that toxic chemicals and materials of factories are being thrown into Kenjhar Lake, he
directed the secretary industries to pay immediate visit to the Kenjhar Lake and submit a report within 24 hours.
Jam Ikramullah Dharejo said that if the toxic water of factories is released into the Kenjhar Lake and treatment plant is not used, action will be taken against the factories owners under the law.
He added that he has been conveyed that treatment plants are installed in Nooriabad and KB feeder Kotri and these treatment plants pass through the factories to clear the water. He said that Sindh government is working for the betterment of Kenjhar Lake and will take all possible measures to preserve the beauty of Kenjhar Lake.
On the directives of minister, secretary industries has visited the site.
LHC CJ ORDERS CRACKDOWN ON INDUSTRIES CREATING POLLUTION
The Newspaper’s Staff Reporter Updated January 17, 2020
LAHORE: Lahore High Court Chief Justice Mamoon Rashid Sheikh on Thursday directed the Punjab government to take stern action against the industries violating environmental laws and also sought report about coal power plants’ effects on climate.
Hearing petitions relating to smog, the chief justice expressed concern over growing air pollution and shrinking greenbelts in urban areas.
“Do they really allocate space for greenbelts in Lahore’s master plan?” the infuriated chief justice asked the officials of government departments.
He also noted that the cities had gradually lost their boundaries due to poor planning of the authorities concerned.
An official of the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) told court that the new master plan for Lahore was being drafted to bring about improvements. He said Rs500 million had been allocated for a four-year plan to plant trees in the city. He admitted that trees had not been planted along Ring Road.
Representing a petitioner, Advocate Ahmad Rafay Alam submitted that the environment department took no effective step to monitor smog and its density. He said there had been no drop in smog but the department could present piles of papers to justify its performance.
Additional Advocate General Asif Cheema told the court that the chief minister was going to head a meeting of an environmental committee soon. He said the committee would set minimum standard of air quality.
He said the government sealed 747 brick kilns for not complying with the environmental regulations and they had been offered low markup loan through the Bank of Punjab to install zigzag technology.
Advocate Azhar Siddique, the counsel for another petitioner, pointed out that there was no mechanism to measure the effects of coal power plants in the province.
The law officer said Sahiwal coal power project had no serious effect on crops, however, there had been a slight decrease in production of cotton. He explained that the decrease in cotton production was in fact due to increase in production cost.
The chief justice observed that import of cotton from neighbouring countries was also the main reason behind the crisis. He said the government needed to offer subsidy to farmers in fertilizer and pesticides.
The counsel also referred to the industries burning tyres to produce furnace oil.
The CJ directed the government to identify such units in the province and take strict action against them. He also sought separate reports from all deputy commissioners and adjourned the case for 10 days.
Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2020
PHAS DIRECTED TO ACHIEVE TREE PLANTATION GOALS
By RECORDER REPORT on January 18, 2020
Punjab Minister for Housing and Urban Development Mian Mahmood-ur-Raheed has instructed the high-ups of Parks and Horticulture Authorities (PHAs) of the entire province to take comprehensive and affective measures to achieve the set goals of Tree Plantation Campaign 2020.
He was presiding over a meeting of Chairmen and Director Generals of the entire PHAs. Advisor to CM Asif Mahmood, Secretary Housing Nadeem Mahboob and PHA high-ups of Lahore, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Multan, Sahiwal, Rawalpindi, Bahawalpur, Sargodha and DG Khan attended the meeting.
Mian Mahmood-ur-Rasheed said that PHAs should concentrate on planting shaded trees along road sides to curb the pollution and reduce the affects of climate changes. He instructed that special focus should be given to maintain cleanliness in parks and green belts in the cities as clean environment plays an important role in healthy living.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2020
COLLABORATION CAN HELP MITIGATE AIR QUALITY CRISIS: EXPERTS
OUR CORRESPONDENT January 19,2020
KARACHI. Across the globe, air pollution is one of the biggest threats to the environment, indiscriminately affecting everyone. Polluted air not only poses a serious risk to human health but it also has economic consequences.
To shed light on the topic, and specifically focus on Karachi’s air quality alomg with the role that businesses can play to alleviate the problem, the Centre of Excellence in Responsible Business (CERB) – an outreach initiative of the Pakistan Business Council to build capacity and capability of businesses in Pakistan – recently conducted an event in collaboration with the US Consulate General in Karachi.
Entitled “Air Quality Monitoring: The Role of Industry,” the event brought academics, environmental and climate experts, researchers and industry leaders under one roof to discuss the impotance of air quality and its impact, the need for monitoring and ways in which different stakeholders can come together to resolve the issue.
One of the core purposes of the event was to discuss the role of industries and different businesses in mitigating the crisis of air pollution through sustainable solutions as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
Explaining the subject, CERB executive director Fuad Hashimi spoke about his organisation’s objective to assist businesses in Pakistan in pursuing long-term sustainability and value creation, with the mission to contribute towards inclusive social, environmental and ecnoic development.
Commenting on the discussion during the question and answer session, ESG assistant manager at Laksom Investments Ramesh Advani mentioned the CSR initiatives taken b Lakson Group and how it is playing the role of a front-runner in bringing different companies together to meet the challenges of air pollution.
“Lakson is not only increasing its individual social responsibility by monitoring air quality but it is also the first company in Pakistan to invite other stakeholders to join the initiative,” he said. “At present, Lakson is working with 17 companies under its umbrella to address the challenge of air pollution and look for ways to resolve it in a scientific manner.”
Some of the companies which are contributing to Lakson’s one-of-a-kind initiative include McDonald’s, Lakson Investments, Colgate-Palmolive Pakistan, Century Publications and Express Media Group, among others. US Consul General Robert Silberstein and Hashimi delivered keynote speeches.
NEWS COVERAGE PERIOD FROM JAN 06 TO JAN 12,2020
SINDH GOVT ADVISER PASSES BUCK ON GARBAGE ISSUE
By Our Corresponden Published: January 6, 2020
KARACHI: Adviser to Sindh Chief Minister on Law, Environment and Coastal Development Barrister Murtaza Wahab has called for collective efforts to solve problems plaguing Karachi, stressing that ridding the metropolis of its myriad issues was not just the provincial government’s responsibility. Speaking at a round table conference organised by the Karachi Citizens Forum (KCF) on Saturday, Wahab pointed out that cantonment boards and residents of the city were equally responsible for curbing various menaces faced by the financial hub of the country.
Speaking at the conference, aimed at initiating dialogue on ‘Creating a Clean and Green Karachi through Public Private Partnership’, Wahab said that the Sindh government was certain that solution to the city’s problems lied in introducing public private partnership models in various sectors. Underlining its significance for Karachi’s progress, he said, “We need to invest more in public private partnerships and set aside politics [and political differences] to clean the city.”
He further said that Karachi’s issues could not be solved until citizens too made efforts in this regard, and added that ground realities needed to be considered in order to come up with practical solutions.
Referring to the tree plantation drive initiated by the Sindh government, Wahab said that it was of immense importance that trees and plants were maintained and taken care of properly. Appreciating extensive participation of the public in the plantation drive, he said that while, on one hand, several people partook in planting trees, on the other, “many others stole the plants.”
Speaking about cleaning the city of garbage piles, Wahab deflected responsibility from the Sindh government and said that cantonment boards also needed to be actively engage in cleaning garbage. “[However], neither cantonment boards, nor the Sindh government is responsible for garbage littering the city,” he said, adding that “as responsible citizens people too need to abide by laws.”
He complained that the Sindh government was often questioned on garbage piles openly lying around the city in areas like Defence Housing Authority and Karsaz, which fall under the jurisdiction of cantonment boards.
The barrister also pointed out that “only talking about corruption will do little to solve the problems.” He said, “instead, we need to [focus on] addressing actual issues.”
Later, he apprised the participants of the conference that a “master plan for Karachi is being prepared” and the chief minister has constituted a committee to work on the development of Karachi. The committee includes city’s stakeholders and engineers as members, he added.
Also speaking on the occasion, Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Secretary General Dr Qaisar Sajjad said, “Karachi first needs to be cleaned and then it will turn green, eventually.” Indicated towards the rise in cases of various diseases in the city, he attributed the issue to ever-growing piles of garbage, besides other factors.
“There are [around] 30,000 garbage pickers in Karachi who contract several diseases,” said Sajjad, talking about epidemics gripping the metropolis.
Dr Abdul Ghafoor Shoro of PMA said that diseases like diarrhea and typhoid were already rife in Karachi and now its residents are afflicted by drug-resistant typhoid, which is not easily cured. “The situation is worsening day by day,” he lamented.
Pakistan Women’s Foundation for Peace Chairperson Nargis Rahman, echoed Wahab’s words as she stressed the need for collective efforts to solve Pakistan’s problems. Saying that Karachi is on the brink on an environmental disaster, Rahman criticised the authorities for their neglect towards the city.
“Karachi needs a master plan that it never had,” she said. “Its problems cannot be solved without a master plan,” she added, and expressed hope that Wahab would take steps for getting one prepared.
She drew attention towards the dismal state of the metropolis’ drainage, sewerage and garbage disposal system and rued that even educated people openly threw garbage on the streets. “Nobody here is willing to take the responsibility,” Rahman lamented.
Former governor of Karachi, Kamal Azfar, however, informed the participants of the conference that three master plans were prepared for Karachi in the past and ‘Karachi Improvement Act’ was also passed in 1950. “We don’t need new acts [and laws] but work on city’s infrastructure to solve its problems,” he stressed. “In this regard, empowering the mayor is also of significance,” he added.
Korangi Association of Trade and Industries (KATI) President Sheikh Umar Rehan and others also spoke on the occasion.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 6th, 2020.
UAE ROYALS ALLOWED TO HUNT RARE HOUBARA BUSTARD
Bhagwandas Updated January 08, 2020
KARACHI: The federal government has issued special permits to United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and four other members of the ruling family to hunt the internationally protected houbara bustard during the 2019-20 hunting season, it is learnt.
According to sources, besides the UAE president, the names on the hunters’ list include his brothers and another member of the royal family. Sheikh Khalifa has been allocated hunting areas in three provinces — Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab.
The sources said that the hunting permits, issued by the foreign ministry’s deputy chief of protocol Mohammad Adeel Pervaiz, were delivered to the UAE Embassy in Islamabad so that these could be sent to the hunters.
According to the permits, Sheikh Khalifa has been allocated Sukkur, Ghotki, Sanghar and Nawabshah districts in Sindh; Panjgur, Kharan (except Nag Dara breeding area), Washuk (excluding Mashkhel) Ormara, Pasni, Gwadar, Zhob, tehsil Lehri of Sibi (Domki area only) in Balochistan; and Rahim Yar Khan, Rajanpur and Chakwal districts in Punjab.
The sources said that while all the special hunting permits were person-specific and only one person could hunt under these permits, in the case of UAE President Sheikh Khalifa, the name of his brother and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al-Nahyan — who is also the deputy supreme commander of the UAE armed forces — had also been mentioned in the permit so that he could also hunt houbara bustard under the same permit in the same areas. Sheikh Mohammad hunted the migratory bird prior to meeting Prime Minister Imran Khan in the federal capital a few days ago, added the sources.
Sheikh Khalifa’s brother and UAE Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al-Nahyan has been allocated Khairpur district (including Kot Diji, not across Nara Canal).
The ruler’s representative in the Western Region Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al-Nahyan has been allocated tehsils Khairpur Nathan Shah and Johi, and union council Fareedabad in Dadu district, Ghaibi Dero in Larkana district, Shahdadkot district and Khairpur district across Nara Canal to hunt the migratory bird, which is considered to be an aphrodisiac by the Arab hunters.
A member of the UAE’s ruling family, Sheikh Saif bin Mohammad bin Butti Al-Hamed, has been allocated Duki area in Loralai district of Balochistan for hunting the protected bird, added the sources.
Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2020
SINDH GOVT TO REHABILITATE WETLANDS IN INDUS DELTA
By Our Correspondent Published: January 8, 2020
KARACHI: The Sindh government has decided to initiate a project under public-private partnership model, to revegetate degraded wetlands in the Indus Delta, so as to benefit the province’s poverty-stricken coastal communities. The cost of the project is projected to be $25 million.
The decision was taken during a cabinet meeting of the provincial government held on Tuesday.
Addressing the meeting, Sindh Local Government, Forests and Religious Affairs Minister Nasir Hussain Shah informed the participants that vegetation in coastal areas is in fact “a vast carbon reservoir.”
“Vegetation in coastal areas, including mangrove forests, sea grass meadows, salt marshes and wetlands, stores and sequesters blue carbon,” he said, elaborating further that these plants capture carbon from atmospheric carbon dioxide, which is then deposited as sediment at their base.
If properly revegetated, these wetlands have immense potential to benefit coastal communities as well as the provincial government, he added.
Forests Secretary Rahim Soomro said entering a public-private partnership was the only way through which vast chunks of degraded wetlands in the Indus Delta could be rehabilitated. Agreeing with Soomro, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said that public-private partnership model would help with addressing the budgetary, technical and managerial constraints entailing the endeavour and directed forest department officials to initiate the process establishing a public-private partnership for the purpose.
At this, Nasir apprised the CM that a private firm has shown interest in providing assistance for the rehabilitation of wetlands through a public-private partnership model and has committed to deliver services for the development, sustainability and management of the wetlands. The firm has proposed its services for rehabilitating wetlands stretching over approximately 250,000 hectares of the Indus Delta, in Thatta Suajawal and Badin Districts, under a project titled ‘Sindh Blue Carbon Initiative’ (SCBI), he said.
“The project will cost around $25 million and the agreement will last for 60 years, however, this period may be extended up to 100 years at a later stage,” he added.
Later, Sindh Livestock and Fisheries Minister Abdul Bari Pitafi informed the cabinet that illegal jetties were operating on a large scale in the province. He revealed 33 irregular jetties were identified, including 12 in Ibrahim Hyderi, five in Mirpurkhas, six in areas falling in Thatta, Badin and Gharo Districts and 10 along the coastal belt in Balochistan.
“These jetties are run by influential persons and charge between Rs100 and Rs5,000 per boat,” he said, adding that irregular jetties were found to be causing a loss of Rs4 million to Rs5 million to the government.
To tackle the issue, the CM ordered the fisheries department officials to make necessary arrangement for installing Vessel Monitoring Systems and called for transferring their control to the government to regularise them.
The cabinet observed that the assets of Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation were to be devolved to Sindh after the 18th Amendment was passed. The meeting outlined a motel in dilapidated condition at Hawkes Bay, 32 acres of land in Sukkur, a chunk of land in Hyderabad, a tourism facilitation centre in Karachi, a motel in Moen-jo-Daro, a tourism information centre in Thatta and a piece of land in Bhambhore, as assets to be transferred to Sindh.
The participants of the meeting decided to write letters, seeking the transfer of these assets, to the federal government and agreed that the provincial government would look after these assets until the matter is settled.
Following this, Sindh Labour, Archives and Information Minister Saeed Ghani presented a draft for the ‘Sindh Occupational Safety and Health Rules, 2019’- a bill aimed at ensuring the safety of employees at workplaces. The bill, also covering labourers and agriculture workers, bounds the employers to ensure ‘neat and clean environment’ at workplaces and adopt safety and security measures, including the installation of lights, ensuring proper ventilation and temperature and controlling dust and noise. The cabinet approved the bill.
The labour minister also requested the cabinet to exempt shops and other commercial establishments from paying registration fee, in accordance with the ‘Ease of Doing Business Reforms’. At this, the cabinet agreed to exempt shops and other commercial establishments from paying registration fee. The exemption, however, is subject to establishments registering via The Sindh Business Registration Portal.
Officials from the health department apprised the cabinet that the regional blood centre in Jamshoro was being managed by the Indus Hospital and it has seven blood banks affiliated with it. The blood blanks are located at LUMS Hospital, Hyderabad, DHQ Hospital, Matiari, Civil Hospital, Thatta, Civil Hospital, Badin, Civil Hospital, Mirpurkhas, Civil Hospital, Tharparkar and Civil Hospial, Jamshoro.
The meeting was informed that the Indus Hospital had performed a gap analysis wherein it was found that the total requirement of all the attached hospital-based blood banks was 70,000 bags. The cabinet’s approval was sought for increasing the quantity of blood bags at the banks from 20,000 to 70,000, which will cost around Rs8.2 billion over the period of next 10 years. The cabinet acceded to the request.
Earlier, as the meeting commenced, the CM remarked, “It is the first cabinet meeting of the new year, which will turn out to be a year of development, peace and prosperity.”
The meeting was attended by all provincial ministers, advisers, acting chief secretary Mohammad Waseem and other relevant officials.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2020.
TROPHY HUNTING PROTECTING WILDLIFE IN SINDH
By Sameer Mandhro Published: January 8, 2020
KARACHI: The Sindh cabinet finally gave approval for trophy hunting, which was initially scheduled for November last year, in non-protected areas of Jamshoro and Malir, during a meeting on Tuesday. Following the cabinet’s approval, it is projected that 15 aged animals will be hunted by local and foreign hunters in the above-mentioned areas this season.
Permission for trophy hunting was first granted by the Sindh government in November, 2006, and since then, locals and foreigners have been visiting the non-protected areas of the province- where hunting is permitted- every November to partake in the activity. However, it was delayed this year for reasons unknown.
“This is the first time that it [trophy hunting] has been delayed,” said a community worker from a non-protected area of Kohistan, who asked not to be named. “I hope this will not affect the community in a bad way,” he added, perplexed by the unforeseen delay.
In Sindh, trophy hunting began in 2006, and involves the hunting of aged Sindh Ibexes and Urials found in various areas of Sindh.
According to a wildlife expert, it is not possible to give an estimate of the total number of animals, pursued during the hunting season, inhabiting the non-protected areas. However, he confirms their presence in non-protected areas located near Sehwan, Wahid Pandhi and Gorakh Hills, over the last couple of years.
A wildlife official, however, is able to provide a rough estimate of the population of animals sought during trophy hunting in the protected areas, where hunting is prohibited. There are around 27,000 Sindh Ibexes and over 14,000 Urials in protected areas including Halalo, Pachran, Uth Palan and Mol, he shared. “Meanwhile, around 2,600 animals inhabit the non-protected areas,” he said.
During the meeting on Tuesday, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah was apprised that this year, approval has been given for the hunting of five Urials and 15 Sindh Ibexes by foreigners. For each hunted Urial, they will be charged a fee of $14,000 and for each Ibex, a fee of $5,600. Meanwhile, Pakistani hunters are allowed to hunt up to 5 Ibexes, and fee for each hunted animal is fixed at Rs300,000.
“[But] this [trophy hunting] is not considered a means to generate revenue but to conserve and protect the wildlife and the natural habitat,” the CM clarified at the meeting.
According to officials from the Sindh Wildlife Department (SWD), 80 per cent of the amount collected from hunters is spent on the welfare of the community inhabiting the protected areas. The communities have taken up the task of protecting the animals in these areas. The remaining amount is transferred to the government’s treasury, the officials said.
Further elaborating, an official said, “The community looks after these animals and no one is allowed to hunt them [in protected areas],” he said.
As many as 124 individuals are assigned to protect the animals from the local community and each one of them is paid Rs6,000 monthly. Meanwhile, the amount, collected through trophy hunting and is allocated for the community’s welfare, is spent on various projects pertaining to the installation of water purification plants, roads and bridges, provision of healthcare services and distribution of books among students.
“Sacrificing a few [aged animals] a large population [of animals] is safeguarded,” the official commented. “This is wildlife science,” he said, terming the system that has been in place for years a “a good management tool.”
He said that an increase in the population of animals is observed since the custom of trophy hunting began, said another official of SWD, confirming that there is a total ban on hunting in protected areas monitored by the local people. “No one can hunt animals there,” he claimed.
These observations are resonated by Syed Ali Shah, a conservationist and trophy hunting outfitter. Speaking to The Express Tribune, he said trophy hunting has led to a visible increase in the population of animals. “There were about 600 markhors in Gilgit-Baltistan in 1999 but now their number crosses 3,000.”
Ali said believed that the trophy hunting has actually saved animals and helped increase their population. “There is no poaching because of collective benefits [acquired through trophy hunting],” he explained.
Meanwhile, officials from the Sindh Wildlife Department (SWD) avoided sharing reasons behind the delay in hunting season this time around. The conservationists and wildlife experts, on the other hand, believe that the intent behind the delay was to keep foreign hunters away from Sindh.
“I don’t know the reason of the delay,” said Malik Qamar, the president of Kohistan Community Welfare Organization. “We applied in November [for trophy hunting],” he added. “I cannot determine what caused the delay but I am happy that the cabinet has granted approval for [hunting, eventually],” he said.
According to an official of SWD, trophy hunting will start in the next 15 days. “We hope it’s not too late,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2020.
SPANISH NATIONAL HUNTS SEASON’S THIRD MARKHOR IN GILGIT-BALTISTAN
By Shabbir Mir Published: January 10, 2020
GILGIT: A Spanish citizen became the third foreign hunter of the season by hunting a markhor, Pakistan’s national animal, on the outskirts of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) on Thursday.
“John March hunted markhor whose horns measured 40 inches,” said Tariq Shah, spokesperson of the G-B wildlife department. “It was the third markhor hunt made by an international hunter this season,” he added.
According to wildlife officials, the recent hunt took place in Sakwar Nallah.
The Spanish hunter paid a fee of $83,000 to authorities concerned in order to purchase hunting permit auctioned by the G-B government last year.
Although hunting of markhor is illegal in the country, the government has launched a scheme known as trophy hunting — first introduced in 80’s — that makes the hunt legal for the highest bidder of trophy hunting programme.
As per rules, 80 per cent of the fee paid by the hunter is given to the local community to invest on further conversation of the animals.
Markhor, also known for its beautiful coiled horns, is a large Capra species native to Central Asia, Karakoram and the Himalayas. It is listed on the IUCN Red List as Near Threatened since 2015.
Last month, the season’s first markhor was hunted in G-B’s Skardu town by an Italian hunter named Carlo Pasco who successfully hunted a flared-horned markhor from the Skardu conservation area.
In mid-December, Joe Lawrence Walreven, an American hunter, killed a Kashmir markhor in Lower Chitral as trophy hunting after obtaining permit from the wildlife department for $140,000.
NEWS COVERAGE PERIOD FROM DEC 30 JAN 05,2020
OIL REFINERIES: SENATE BODY DISCUSSES ISSUE OF ECOLOGICAL, AQUATIC EFFECTS
By ZULFIQAR AHMAD on December 31, 2019
A parliamentary panel was informed on Monday that gearing up for Euro-4 or Euro-5 would be counterproductive unless the vehicles are upgraded and declared fit with regular inspections. The Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights, which met here with Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar in the chair, discussed the issue of ecological and aquatic effects of oil refineries working in the country and the government’s policy to overcome the said issues.
Ministries of climate change and petroleum, provincial environment and transport departments and representatives of oil refineries briefed the committee. The committee was told that 43 percent pollution in the country was due to low grade oil being imported and used by transport industry. In Pakistan Euro-2 standard is applied while the world has gone to Euro-6 technology.
Prime Minister Imran Khan recently said the government had decided that till end of year 2020, Euro-5 fuel would be imported, while the recent fuel would be converted into Euro-4.
The committee was informed that almost nine percent of national GDP was affected due to climate change, due to low yields and more expenditure on health. There is need for strong coordination between federation and provinces and the standards should be uniform nationwide.
The country’s five oil refineries are still primitive and at infancy stage, while Pakistani oil has high magnesium and sulphur contents which are hazardous to health. The last refining sector policy came in 1997 and since then no upgraded framework has been emerged; however, the ministry has from time to time issued regulations and directives to the refineries regarding up-gradation in technology and usage.
Citing reports, the committee was informed that around 128,000 deaths occur annually – directly or indirectly – due to climate change and children being weak in fighting organ diseases are worst affected.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2019
QATAR’S EMIR PERMITTED TO EXPORT FALCONS FROM PAKISTAN
Bhagwandas Updated January 04, 2020
KARACHI: The federal government has issued a special permit to Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to export 200 rare falcons from Pakistan to his country during the 2019-20 hunting season, it is learnt here reliably.
According to sources, the falcons of highly rare species — Saker and Peregrine — are used for hunting the internationally protected houbara bustard during winters in the country. Oil-rich Arab hunters keep a large number of falcons to pursue their houbara bustard hunting.
As falcons age with time, hunters need to change their aged falcons with younger ones that could hunt houbara bustard more efficiently. Hence, an export permit was requested by Qatar and duly issued by Pakistan.
Residents of colder central Asian region, falcons follow migratory birds, including houbara bustard, southwards during winters.
Keeping in view their dwindling population, trapping and trading of the falcon species are banned.
The sources said that by issuing falcon export permits the government was promoting and patronising underground black wildlife market as falcons could not be trapped, sold and purchased here legally. The falcons for export would have to be purchased from traders dealing in wildlife illegally.
The sources said that export permit (No: DCP (P&I)—18/6/2019-20 Falcons / Qatar), issued by the foreign ministry’s deputy chief of protocol Mohammad Adeel Pervaiz, stated that the embassy might export 200 falcons from Pakistan to Qatar for personal use of Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Emir of Qatar.
Published in Dawn, January 4th, 2020
ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE THRIVES ONLINE DESPITE CONSERVATION EFFORTS
Jamal Shahid Updated January 05, 2020
ISLAMABAD: Illegal wildlife trade is thriving on social media and on platforms such as OLX and Facebook, impeding conservation efforts that aim to protect threatened and endangered species.
According to World Wide Fund (WWF) Pakistan Senior Director Programmes Rab Nawaz, trade in exotic birds and animals is impacted by social media because of the accessibility of photos and videos of these species, and by “the increasing popularity of online animal marketplaces.”
Mr Nawaz said unlawful trade in birds and animals on social media was a cybercrime but it had been a daunting task to convince governments to monitor and arrest those involved in online illegal wildlife trade. Efforts to block websites that promote illegal trade in species in Pakistan have not been successful either, he said.
Exotic birds, including endangered falcons and migratory ducks (white headed ducks) and Siberian cranes, endangered turtles, scorpions, reptiles such as leopard geckos and monitor lizards as well as animal hides and trophies are being traded on social media in violation of the law.
Just two weeks ago, a senior Ministry of Climate Change official said an endangered Sekker falcon that had been trapped in Qila Saifullah was auctioned for Rs9.9 million and pictures of it were shared on Facebook.
Holding up his phone, the official then played a video shared online of a compound with nearly two dozen falcons trapped inside. Trapping and capturing migratory falcons has been banned in Pakistan since 2005.
“Another falcon is on sale in Peshawar for Rs70,000. The seller also posted his mobile phone number for more details on the bird,” he said, showing a social media page where the advertisement had been posted.
According to the ministry, between 4,000 and 6,000 falcons of various species could have been trapped from January to December 2019.
Conservationists confiscate a truckload of stuffed wild goats sold on social media in Gilgit-Baltistan.
“At this rate migratory falcons will go extinct in the next five to 10 years. The Sekker falcon – a bigger, stronger, more agile species of falcon – is a particular favourite with the Arabs. Though Arabs bring captive bred falcons with them when they come to hunt Hubara Bustards in Pakistan, they prefer trapped Sekker falcons for their better hunting instincts and skills,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Last week, Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) confiscated a mounted Ibex trophy that was being sold on OLX illegally for Rs65,000. The board also confiscated a leopard skin from a seller advertising it on the same platform.
“Its sellers have two more leopard skins. The big cats were possibly killed not too long ago,” said IWMB Wildlife Officer Zaheer Khan.
The Punjab Wildlife Department rescued and released a falcon in the Rawalpindi district that was also on sale on social media two weeks ago.
One of the directors of the department, Rizwana Imtiaz, told Dawn that there was an endless war against traders illegally dealing in wildlife.
“We come across two to three advertisements related to the sale of animals almost every week. We have a dedicated staff that monitors such illegal activities on social media,” Ms Imtiaz said.
Conservationists lament that failure to implement laws that protect wildlife counters efforts to save threatened and endangered species.
While the federal and Punjab governments are endeavouring to fight unlawful trade in wildlife in their jurisdictions, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Balochistan governments have not taken concrete action to do so.
Published in Dawn, January 5th, 2020