Among the proposals put forward for marking Environment Day on June 5 were banning vehicular traffic in South Lahore for the day and NGO members spending the day cleaning up the city.
The former came from Ahmed Rafay Alam, the LESCO chairman and the latter from Ali Foundation. They were among the many suggestions made during a seminar – arranged by the Environment Protection Department (EPD) – attended by 72 NGOs.
Other recommendations included conservation initiatives, walks and seminars and an environment outreach programme for schools.
Alam claimed that about 65 per cent of the city’s population is concentrated in South Lahore – an area that includes Johar Town, Canal View and Raiwind. He said that South Lahore constituted only 10 per cent of the city’s total area. Banning movement of cars on June 5, he said, will send an effective message.
The theme for this year’s Environment Day is green economy.
Discussing the theme, Alam spoke about the need for energy efficiency. He said that he had created an energy efficiency cell at Lesco last year but conceded that not much was achieved.
For this year, Alam said, he planned on organising a conference through which he hoped Lesco officers will learn about conserving energy.
Asif Farooki, CEO of Waste Busters, proposed launching a campaign against use of plastic bags. Farooki requested the representatives of participating NGOs and the Environment Protection Agency to launch a campaign in various neighbourhoods asking residents to collect plastic bags and discard them in EPA-provided containers. Farooki said that these bags could be delivered to Waste Busters, who would recycle them.
Akhtar Awan, CEO of Eco Green, said that development can be made environmental-friendly through a three-pronged strategy: cutting down carbon emissions, sustainable consumption of resources, and conservation of energy.
Sania Khan from the WWF suggested a roadmap that includes “all segments of the society. Women sitting at home or a primary school student may be aware of environmental issues but not have a clue about how to contribute to making it better.”
A representative from Ali Foundation suggested that all NGOs should join hands to clean up the city on June 5. Every year fruitless seminars and walks are arranged and we hear “this should be done and that should be done,” he complained. Let’s start by cleaning the city on June 5, he said, and then move on to awareness campaigns and school outreach programmes.
Tabassum Naz, head of Naz Welfare Foundation, proposed that the government check water waste in rural areas. She said that the water conservation imperative is largely ignored in villages. Some campaigns to this end have been successful to some extent in the cities, she noted, but attention needs to be paid to villages.
The EPA was also advised by several NGOs to help enforce the ban on smoking in public.
EPA secretary Saeed Iqbal Wahla said that the proposals had been noted and will be considered while planning ways to mark the Environment Day.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 3rd, 2012.