The Planning and Development Department has approved a development budget of Rs350 million, the same as last year, for the Environment Protection Department for 2012-13.
The money will be spent on seven ongoing projects and four new projects. An EPD official told The Express Tribune that the department had proposed a development budget of Rs750 million, which included funds for a project to install incinerators in all hospitals in Punjab.
He said that currently, only three of the nine incinerators installed in hospitals in Lahore were functional, which had led to the improper disposal of hospital waste. He said that some hazardous hospital waste ended up being recycled and used to manufacture disposable goods.
He said that the Planning and Development Department didn’t approve funds for the project as it believed that the Health Department should be responsible for the project.
New and old projects
The four new projects to be initiated in the next fiscal year are for the establishment of cells for testing drinking water quality at Lahore and Multan; for the establishment of a directorate for hospital waste management; and for preventing environmental hazards from industrial accidents.
An EPD official said that the EPD lacks machinery for testing the quality of drinking water. He said the directorate for hospital waste would ensure that hazardous materials don’t end up being recycled. The initiative for preventing industrial accidents will involve EPD officers inspecting factories with boilers or any equipment that needs be monitored for environment hazards.
The old projects allocated funds include one to build four biodiversity parks at DG Khan, Bahawalpur, Murree and Kasur. These will be completed by next year, the official said. Some Rs160 million has been spent on the project in the last four years and Rs181 million is to be allocated for next year, the largest allocation for any EPD project.
Under another project, 36 NGOs – one in each district – will be given money for small-scale awareness campaigns. About Rs3.6 million has been allocated previously and another Rs3.6 million will be allocated in next year’s budget, he said.
The EPD will get funds to train staff to prepare initial environment examination and environmental impact assessment reports. The Management and Professional Development Department will conduct the training.
Industrialists and government officials will also learn ways to mitigate the causes of climate change, such as curbing the use of fossil fuels, at capacity-building workshops under another project. “Officials of the Transport and Industries Departments and power generating units will be trained in this regard,” the EPD official said.
Another ongoing project involves funding researchers at the Lahore University of Management Sciences looking to develop cheap, environment-friendly technologies.
Funds will also be allocated for improving the EPD legal cell by hiring and training staff to assist the environment tribunal, the official said.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 31st, 2012.
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