Environmentalists on Tuesday called for collective efforts to protect the fragile ecosystem of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) and stressed to create awareness among communities for better handling of its resources.
Environment experts stated this during seminars organised in G-B to observe World Environment Day on Tuesday. Lectures, speeches, drawing competitions and walks were also held in schools to observe the day, raising awareness about the ecosystem of the mountainous region, and ways to conserve energy and to protect the environment.
“[G-B] is rich in resources but has a fragile ecosystem that needs care and proper conservation,” World Wild Fund (WWF) Regional Conservation Officer Tajdar Hussain told journalists in Gilgit. “We are facing repercussions of climate change that are triggered by human interventions in developed countries,” he added.
Hussain said that environmental degradations caused the floods in 2010, which wreaked havoc across G-B: killing thousands and sweeping away roads, houses, orchards and bridges. He added that the landslide that hit Attabad two years back was also an indicator of environmental degradation in the mountain-locked region.
The conservation officer said that G-B is geographically important as it hosts the highest number of glaciers after the polar region. The region is home to several glaciers, high altitude peaks, lakes and pastures which serve as a habitat for its rare wildlife, he added.
Hussain said that WWF, an international nongovernmental organisation, is helping locals understand the core issues posing threat to natural resources such as glaciers, wildlife and forests. He added that WWF is celebrating World Environment Day in Skardu, Hunza-Nagar, Ghizer and Danyor by involving students and community members.
On pollution in AJK
Meanwhile, speakers at a seminar expressed concern over the increasing adverse impacts of environmental pollution in Mipur, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). They said that poisonous smoke emerging from industrial units, kilns, and wildfires are a major cause of pollution in the area.
The speakers urged state-run institutions to spread awareness on ways to prevent pollution, and called for legislation by the AJK Assembly to empower the Environmental Protection Agency to perform its duties. The session was chaired by Anglers Association President, Advocate Muhammad Ramazan Dutt.
Quoting a recent survey of the World Health Organization, a speaker said that although AJK is “blessed with 80 per cent of natural water sources”, drinking water being supplied from Mirpur using tube wells is unfit for consumption. Similarly, other water resources including the Mangla dam reservoir have been polluted by dirt heaps, he added.
When contacted, the Assistant Director Environmental Protection Agency Mirpur Division Raja Rizwanullah Khan said that his institution was working to launch projects for the elimination of environmental pollution in Mirpur division.
He stressed on imposing ban on plastic bags in the area. He said the AJK government has earmarked funds to bring about “green revolution” in the region.
Khan said that the federal environment ministry is spending Rs110 million for the reforestation of AJK, besides initiating steps to save the forests from fire and erosion. The ceremony was arranged by AJK Anglers Association Mirpur.
Awareness walk in Attock
In Attock, various functions were organised to observe World Environment Day. District Coordination Officer (DCO) Attock Shakeel Ahmed led an awareness walk from Fawara Chowk to Union Council Hall, in which district administration officers, students and representatives of various NGOs participated.
In a function held at Council Hall Attock, DCO Ahmed said, “Healthy environment produces healthy societies and the health of our coming generation depends upon the environment that we conserve.” He told participants that this year the theme of the day is to encourage the green economy. “For this, each and every citizen of Pakistan must try to develop alternate resources to overcome the current energy crises,” he added.
A large number of students pledged to save the environment for the better future of the country.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 6th, 2012.
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