Participants of a workshop called for adoption of environment-friendly measures and assessment before launching any development project including hydropower generation in Azad Kashmir.
The three-day hydropower pilot Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) training and scoping workshop concluded at a local hotel late on Friday.
The workshop aimed at combating the challenges being faced by the environment, conservation, management of ecosystem and to ensure sustainable development.
The workshop was organised by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Pakistan (IUCN), the Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment, and AJK’s Environment Protection Agency (EPA).
Participants including environmentalist, researchers, lawyers and media persons, said that AJK has been endowed with a beautiful environment and vast natural resources. There is a need to harness these resources and use them for the development and wellbeing of the people of Azad Kashmir.
AJK has the potential of generating over 8,000 megawatts of electricity, they said.
The participants felt that lack of solid waste management has become a major environmental concern in since it has been degrading the natural environment of the state besides creating health hazards.
Speaking at the concluding session, AJK’s Environmental Protection Agency Director General Chaudhry Abdul Qayyum hoped that the newly-introduced Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the Hydro Development Plan’s implementation before and during the course of execution of any hydropower project would help preserve natural resources besides averting any threat to the environment.
EPA Director Dr Raja Aurangzeb Khan said the AJK government is planning to carry out a pilot SEA of power projects under the National Impact Assessment Programme.
He hoped that the workshop will boost the environmental protection efforts, with broader scope, and integrate environmental considerations into policies and programme levels.
Others speakers included Conservator Muhammad Nisar Ahmed, Mirpur District Bar Association Secretary General Faizan Haider and Dr Waqas Mughal.
They stressed on the effective role of all the stakeholders in ensuring environment-friendly development.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 3rd, 2013.