ISLAMABAD: The Standing Committee of the National Assembly on Climate Change has unanimously approved recommendations for allocating Rs16.613 billion for seven ongoing and new projects, including Prime Minister Imran Khan’s 10 Billion Tree Tsunami, in the budget for the fiscal year 2019-20.
This was approved in the committee meeting chaired by MNA Munza Hasan.
As part of its budgetary proposals, the ministry of climate change had proposed to allocate Rs14 billion for forestry under the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami Project while Rs.1.6 billion had been allocated for the protection of wildlife under the programme.
A further Rs280.6 million had been allocated for the conservation and promotion of forests under the Green Pakistan Programme, while Rs120.7 million had been set aside for wildlife protection under the programme.
Some Rs20.4 million had been allocated for a survey by the Geological Survey of Pakistan for the protection and preservation of endangered wildlife,
Moreover, Rs10.6 million had been allocated for the establishment of the climate resilient urban human settlement unit.
During the meeting, State Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul said that their government was working on a massive scale to preserve and protect forests and wildlife.
She further said that the federal government intends to take over control of the Islamabad zoo soon, arguing that the ministry can better manage the Margharzar zoo, adding that the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board already operated under her ministry.
Climate Change secretary told the committee that the billion tree tsunami project launched in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) under the previous term of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had improved rain there by a percentage point.
He added the government was working on a comprehensive tourism policy while taking provinces on board, adding that the policy was expected to be ready by the mid of 2019 after which five eco-tourism resorts will be created across the country.
In the meeting, the departments and subsidiaries of the ministry including the Zoological Survey of Pakistan, the Institute for Protection Environment, the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board, and the Global Change Impact Study Centres gave detailed briefing regarding their goals, importance and nature of work.
In the past two years, the Pakistan-Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) has approved Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) applications and Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) of some 360 projects, including new highways, high-rises, housing societies, factories, compressed natural gas (CNG) stations and fuel pumps in Islamabad
Around 49 project applications were rejected during this period.
According to the documents available with Daily Express, the EPA received some 86 and 114 (EIA) and(IEE) applications respectively from different government and private organizations for construction of different projects.
The documents added that of the 143 IEE applications, the EPA approved some 51 applications while 19 were under consideration whereas 15 were rejected.
Similarly, the EPA in its initial environmental review had approved some 91 EIA applications while 22 applications were under observation and a further 27 have been rejected.
The EPA received around 136 applications for the opening of CNG stations which were all approved. Moreover, 62 out 99 applications to open fuel pumps were approved while 10 are under consideration and seven were rejected by the department.
An official of EPA said that the Capital Development Authority (CDA) topped the list of project initiators for which EIA and IEE applications were rejected. Most of these projects, the official said, were supposed to be built in or around the Margalla Hills National Park.
He added that CDA’s EIA and IEE applications to construct an underpass near Zero Point were also rejected because numerous old trees were likely to be cut down for the construction of the project.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2019.