KARACHI: Sindh Culture and Tourism Minister Ms Sharmila Farooqui said on Sunday that Pakistan is facing serious challenges of environmental degredations like air pollution, land degradation, water pollution; hence, civil society and private organisations need to contribute heir efforts to overcome enviroment losses at par with the government.
“Approximately less than one-fourth of the country’s population is poor and directly dependent on natural resources for their livelihood like agriculture, hunting, forestry and fisheries. Environmental degradation, air and water pollution, ozone layer depletion, deforestation, desertification, vanishing bio diversity, land degradation and natural disasters have resulted in ecological imbalance that badly affect human and their properities. To mitigate these losses, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) Sindh, PDMA Balochistan, PDMA Punjab and PDMA KPK are working effectively,” she said in a statement.
Sharmila said: “Pakistan is a country of 188 million people with average population density of 236 persons per sq km, which is higher as compared to many other developing countries. The country has very high migration rate to urban centers which has made the cities very congested and has made the civic infrastructure inadequate. Air quality data recorded in cities confirmed presence of high concentration of suspended particulate matter in air (2-3.5 times higher than the safe limit). Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) is continuously increasing in major cities mainly due to increased number of CNG operated vehicles.
Formation of photo-chemical smog and haze is a common phenomenon in our cities.”
Most urban citizens rely either on their private motor vehicles or two wheelers or the informal transport sector for urban transport. This has led to a sharp increase in private vehicle ownership. The surge in the demand for private vehicles originated from the increasing affordability on the one hand and availability of vehicle financing from the banking system on the other. Amongst these, diesel vehicles using crude diesel oil and motorcycles and rickshaws are of most serious concern, she said.
“The main causes of air pollution are the abrupt increase in the number of vehicles, inefficient automotive technology, use of unclean fuels, uncontrolled emissions of industrial units, emissions of brick kilns, the burning of garbage and the presence of dust, which needs to be overcome. She said that hectic planning and efforts along with civil society are required to tackle environment issues as solid waste generation in the country is expected to enhance from 20 million tons/year to 27 million tons/year adding more heaps of garbage and open dumping sites Use of pesticides and industrial chemicals willincrease manifolds adding more toxicity to water and soil water pollution load will increase proportionally with rise in population, which could add 25% more pollution to the water bodies. This would increase more hospital admission and elevate health budget,” sharmila added.
Sharmila said: “The fresh water sources will be categorized and protected against pollution. All major cities will install sewage treatment plants. The treated water will be used for agriculture and horticulture purposes Cleaner Production Techniques will be adopted by industries to minimize pollution generation. Federal and Provincial governments will ensure that at least 70% industrial wastewater be treated before discharge into water bodies. Wastewater discharge limits shall be imposed on industry to conserve water and reduce pollution.”
She said the forests cover about 5.2 percent of the land area of Pakistan but it is still short of the 6 percent MDG target. The low share of the forest area taken in combination with the large population of Pakistan gives only 0.033 hectares of forest per capita compared with the world average of one hectare. Because of the scarcity of wood and its high price, the per capita consumption of wood is estimated at 0.026 cubic meters, she added.
She said that climate change is also a big issue as there is growing global consensus that climate change is humankind’s greatest threat in modern times and is likely to have profound consequences for socio-economic sectors such as health, food production, energy consumption and security and natural resource management; however, Sindh government is making hectic efforts to tackle climate change by initiating various projects and raising awareness among people about it.
“The government is taking significant initiatives in collaboration with International agencies to counter complex issues regarding environmental degradation. This multifarious challenge requires deep and focused research and initiatives in order to address air and water pollution, land degradation, deforestation and other environment issues,” Sharmila concluded.
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