WB to lend $200m for air, water monitoring

Punjab plans to install systems to check pollution

Our Correspondent November 22, 2022
A vendor arranges his stall beside a street amid heavy smoggy conditions in Lahore on November 18. Photo: AFP


The World Bank will give a soft loan of $200 million to the Punjab government for installing air and water quality monitoring systems under a green development project.

Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi announced while chairing a meeting that the provincial government would install the monitoring systems in 10 districts, including Lahore, Sheikhupura, Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala and Vehari.

The air quality monitoring systems would be installed at 30 places and water monitoring systems at 15 places under the Punjab green development project, he stated. Alongside, an environment-friendly pilot project for transport will be launched in Lahore with 25 electric buses.

Laws would be enacted to control the use of plastic. Single use of plastic would be ensured to curb environmental pollution, the chief minister said, adding that solar panels would be installed on the rooftops of government buildings under an energy-efficient buildings plan in the divisions, while six district headquarters hospitals had already been converted to solar energy.

The CM disclosed that a $50 million environment endowment fund would be established under a proposed green financing strategy.

A proposal to make token tax for private vehicles subject to inspection and certification was also reviewed during the meeting. The inspection of equipment that causes pollution would be included in the Vehicle Inspection and Certification System (VICS).

The chief minister said soft loans would be given to six industries under the green investment project. The steel, rice, stone crushing and leather processing industries would be included in the project.

Initially, loans of $30 million would be provided to 100 small industrial units; he said and issued directives to start an awareness campaign to overcome environmental pollution.

Former federal minister Moonis Elahi, Chief Secretary Abdullah Sumbal, former principal secretary GM Sikandar, the secretaries of finance and environment, director general of the Environmental Protection Agency and other officials attended the meeting.

Maize transportation ban

During another meeting on Monday, the chief minister imposed a ban on the interprovincial transportation of maize from Punjab.

Speaking to a delegation of the dairy farmers association, he said maize would not be sent out of the province to meet the needs of the livestock sector, especially dairy farming and the poultry industry. The delegation apprised the chief minister of problems of the livestock and dairy farming sector. The CM issued instructions to resolve the issues. He said the ban would benefit the local poultry industry and instructions had been issued to the district police officers and deputy commissioners of the respective districts to prevent the transportation of maize on the exit routes of Punjab.

The chief minister also directed the livestock department to prepare the provincial livestock policy in consultation with the stakeholders. A committee headed by Livestock Minister Sardar Shahabuddin was formed to formulate the policy. The committee will include manufacturers and farmers of the livestock and dairy farming sector.

The CM stated that the Punjab government would prepare locally effective vaccines to protect animals from diseases and the private sector would also be included in the process. He also tasked the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences vice chancellor to prepare the local vaccines in six months.

He said the animals would be vaccinated every year.

The chief minister directed the livestock department to prepare a timetable for the vaccination against diseases and said the staff should regularly conduct field visits to keep an eye on the situation.

He said the Punjab Livestock and Dairy Development Board would be activated and reconstituted to include experts. Consultants will be hired from local universities to promote livestock and dairy farming at the grassroots.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2022.


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