Islamabad: Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Convener of the Senate Human Rights sub-Committee on environment has urged for the restoration of the Ministry of Climate Change, during the Public Hearing on environment at the Parliament house. This is the first time in Parliament’s history that Public Hearing has been convened on the Environment.
“Environment and climate change issue is the one of the most important issues, facing Pakistan and other countries, which will impact the very survivability of our populations,” the senator pointed out.
To create further awareness about environmental challenges of Pakistan, Senator Mushahid Hussain decided to conduct a media workshop for journalist to inform them about emerging environmental issues on 10th March at Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services and commissioned the Climate Change Division and the Inspector General of Forests to prepare a brochure, specifically for journalists, in both English and Urdu for the occasion.
The Senator decried that 5 stone crushers are still illegally operating in the Margalla Hills and remarked, “The Supreme Court order of 25th October 2013 must be implemented in totality and thus all stone crushers are operating in contempt of court and in violation of the law.”
A strong notice of this was taken by ordering a written explanation from the ICT on the action taken to shut down these stone crushers; the ICT has been required to brief the committee in its next session as the CDA informed the Committee it had withdrawn the NOC for these.
The CDA informed the convener that a joint operation has been launched, in collaboration with the ICT and Punjab government, which will cut off the electricity to these stone crushers as the first step while legal cases are being pursued against these illegally operators in the high courts.
The CDA’s public ceremony of its Green and Clean Islamabad campaign was warmly appreciated by Senator Mushahid Hussain who also assured the full support and participation of the parliamentarians. This ceremony is scheduled for 27th February, 2014.
The CDA informed the committee that 115 complaints were received on its environmental hotline 1334 in the last two weeks, which was established under the directions of the committee, out of which 113 were duly attended. Responding to the complaints by the concerned citizens, the CDA promised to install the missing garbage cans on bus stops and other places.
The convener also took a report from the Islamabad Traffic Police on vehicle smoke emissions and was informed that 4393 vehicles were issued challans on noise pollution and emissions, and 927 vehicles were fined so far in 2014. He was also informed that motor vehicle detection support from the Climate Change Division had been withdrawn due to funds constraints in 2013 to which the Convener stated that it must be included in the 2014 budget.
Senator Mushahid Hussain said that those individuals either private citizens or public officials, who are not implementing the Supreme Court order of Oct. 25, 2013 are committing contempt of court and would be taken to task and he added that cutting trees is a crime, both against nature and against the law, and he urged the media to perform a public service by investigating and exposing such environmental crimes.
The Public Hearing generated a lot of interest from the concerned citizens of Islamabad including the Islamabad Green Movement as well as the media and there was animated participation from public quarters who asked pointed questions, which Senator Mushahid Hussain, then requested the CDA as well as the Ministry of Climate Change to respond.
Senator Mushahid Hussain also lauded the Ministry of Climate Change for preparing the action plan and he specifically appreciated the services of Syed Mehmood Nasir, the Inspector General of Forests for his passionate presentation.
The committee will follow up on these issues in the next session and also intends to present an alternative to plastic bags. The Public Hearing was attended by Senator Farhatullah Babar and Senator Saeeda Iqbal.