GILGIT: Work on the preparation of master plans for Gilgit and Skardu towns of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) got underway on Tuesday, with environment experts reviewing possible ecological implications.
During a one-day workshop held at a local hotel, a senior official of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Islamabad office, Saeed Ahmad, along with Dr David, an international consultant, assisted local officials on how to make the master plans eco-friendly.
“The objective of inviting a consultant and an IUCN official was to train local officials working on the plans about the various environmental concerns they should keep in mind,” said Haider Raza, an IUCN representative in Gilgit who organised the workshop. He added they would also help draw out a roadmap for future course of action.
Speaking to journalists, G-B Environment Protection Agency (EPA) Director Shehzad Ahmed Shigri said, “In Pakistan, Strategic Environment Assessment is a new subject under which a master plan or policy for urban planning is vetted or analysed before it gets implemented.”
“Since work on the master plan for Gilgit town is in its initial phase, the EPA, Gilgit Development Authority and IUCN will jointly analyse environmental concerns to make the plan environment friendly,” he added.
Shingri said the G-B Assembly had already passed a law in 2011 in this regard.
“Under the 1997 Act of Conservation of Environment, obtaining a no-objection certificate (NOC) from regional governments is a must before initiating any plan. An NOC is only issued after assessing the environmental concerns associated with the project,” he informed.
Various senior government officials and environment experts attended the day-long workshop.
The Gilgit and Skardu development authorities would be responsible for implementing master plans in their respective towns, while G-B Chief Secretary Younas Dhaga has issued directives that the plans be completed by the end of 2013.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2013.