The city authorities are awakening to the issue of environmental degradation in the capital. Haphazard growth, industrial activity and “concrete replacing the green cover” have for long threatened the beauty and sustainability of the city and taking a step in the right direction the Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) are now looking to address the problem.
The agency is all set to prepare an environmental profile of Islamabad to gauge and improve the city’s environment.
The profiling will be conducted via thermal imaging and a database will be compiled of the city’s hot spots, water sources, green cover and all pollution sources affecting quality of air and water in the city. The survey will also measure indoor air quality of schools, offices, hospitals and public places.
Pak-EPA Director General Asif Shuja Khan said that developing an Environmental Profile of Islamabad (EPI) is the first step towards improving the city’s environment. “Our efforts will be to completely monitor Islamabad and take cognisance of violators of environmental law,” said Khan. He added that the data (primary and secondary) collected for the EPI will also be used in formulating an Environmental Action Plan 2020 with clear targets and implementation mechanisms.
Pak-EPA’s Director Legal Fahim Riaz Khan said that the agency aims to launch different environmental initiatives in the city in consultation and participation of citizens, industrialists and administration to promote sustainable development so as to keep Islamabad’s air, water and soil clean. He said that the environmental profile will be an excellent source of information for taking appropriate actions for pollution control and retarding environmental degradation.
At present, around 800 industrial units are operating in the capital city in three different localities. The Capital Development Authority (CDA) had earlier planned to shift the industrial units to sector I-17, near Motorway Chowk, but the plan was later dropped. A group of industrialists told The Express Tribune that they were ready to shift the industries outside the city “but CDA was not keen on implementing the plan”.
However, in an interview with The Express Tribune, Capital Development Authority (CDA) Chairman Imtiaz Inayat Elahi vowed to make Islamabad one of the most beautiful capital cities of the world. He said that he would leave “no stone unturned” in beautifying the city and improving its environment. “We have a beautiful capital endowed with rich heritage and great location that are too appealing to be ignored.” He said he does not plan to launch any new mega project in the city and existing infrastructure will be improved to facilitate masses. “Over expenditure on gigantic projects has drained the authority,” he said.
Highlighting the future endeavours of CDA, he said that the authority will replace streetlights across the city with light emitting diode (LED) system to ensure energy conservation. He said that the authority is also working on a proposal to implement a scientific waste disposal system across the city. CDA is working towards sustainable urban development, conservation of natural resources and restoration of the city’s natural ecosystems, while minimizing the use of non-renewable resources, he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 6th, 2011.
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