Lahore ripped off 70 percent green cover in last decade: Amin Aslam

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ISLAMABAD, March 26 (APP):Adviser to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam Tuesday said Lahore city has been ripped off 70 percent of its green cover in the last decade as the city of garden has turned into a concrete giant in the name of development.
He expressed his views during the Air Quality Asia (AQA) Conference organized on the parliamentary role in meeting the clean air challenge.
Amin said that it was high to realize the level of pollution we were bearing with, however vehicular emissions left at large, unrestrained industrialization and brick kilns were spewing dark emissions were the major perpetrators of bad quality air.
Pakistan Clean Air Programme (PCAP), he said was a very ambitious project which was deferred after 18th amendment which if had got implemented then the present day smog and polluted ambient situation would have been avoided.
The Prime Minister aide on Climate Change criticized the non-calibrated air quality data provided by private sources and faulty satellite imagery depicting Pakistan the second most polluted country in the world with alarming ratios of serious air pollutants. “The satellite imagery is not complying with the ground reality and also the gadgets used by privately managed air quality monitoring are cheap and not up to the mark hence their data is not accurate and reliable,” he noted.
He said that the country did not collect 60 percent of its solid waste which was ultimately dumped openly whereas 90 percent of its liquid waste was flushed untreated into the major water streams and reservoirs creating formidable repercussions.
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in its recent report also mentioned transport sector causing serious environmental deterioration, he added. Amin mentioned that Pakistan was on the verge of shifting to Electric Revolution gaining momentum in the world. The ministry of climate change was aggressively working on devising a framework to introduce the project across the country which was on the cards, he added.
Speaker, National Assembly Asad Qaiser said that air pollution was causing alarming number deaths whereas the smog situation in Lahore was a serious challenge that required firm steps to address the issue at federal and provincial level. He said that 10 Billion Tree Tsunami had the capacity to overcome this issue where the incumbent government had also introduced seed sowing through drones in remote and hilly areas to ensure maximum targets achieved during massive forestation project.
The speaker also emphasized the need for out of the box legislation to shun massive urbanization resulting into depletion of arid land causing grim affects over food production and quality.
During the inaugural session, MNA Syed Naveed Qamar said that worsening air quality situation and climate change were crucial for the nation and the next generation. “Climate Change in general and air quality in particular have been neglected during in the prior regimes,” he regretted.
Qamar said that all ciites across the country were polluted with smog which was directly affecting children, women and elderly, adding carbon emissions were spoiling the overall environment of the country. “Countries have achieved it which is not an insurmountable task. We need to take this issue on priority basis with a strong and unflinching will. We have to start with awareness, develop will and then proceed for action,” he suggested.
President AQA, Shazia Rafi air pollution was killing more than AIDS, Malaria and tuberculosis combined. She said that major cities of the country had always been rated among top 20 polluted cities in the world. The rapidly growing economies of Asia were air pollution stressed whereas air pollution crosses borders and oceans and could not barred, she added.
“The World Bank report estimates that air pollution is causing US$6 trillion losses around the world which is leaking capital from the world economies. US, China and Mexico have taken concrete measures to mitigate air pollution which have set precedent for other to follow suit,” Shazia said.
MNA Riaz Fatyana said that most of our children and women are victims of air pollution whereas the ministry of climate change should identify household sources producing carbon and solid waste. He urged that every member of the house should play their role in implementing initiatives intended to improve air quality situation.
The first panel discussion was chaired by MNA Munazza Hassan on Pakistan’s air quality; current air quality monitoring system. She said that it was high time educate ourselves, transporters and youth to avoid bad practices polluting the ambience. She said we were using substandard fuel and that poor quality fuel was resulting into air pollution. She added that we first required awareness and then legislation for improving air quality of the country.
Direcotr General Environment Protection Department Punjab Syeda Malika presented the department’s initiatives taken to control smog and air pollution.
Pakistan Air Quality Initiative (PAQI), Abid Omar delivered a detailed presentation on the country’s pollution levels and data disparities in different cities.
During the second panel discussion health impact of air pollution was mulled over by Dr Junaid Rashid, Dr Shazli Manzoor and Ali Touqeer Sheikh. The session was chaired by MNA Romina Khurshid Alam.
The participants believed that it was need of the hour to end coordination gaps at the federal and provincial levels. Air pollution was causing serious health complications among the infants, children and teenagers resulting into serious respiratory diseases, they said. “Health emergency due to air pollution is an issue in the country where there is no second opinion or conflict of any political party,” they added.