ISLAMABAD: Participants at a public hearing on Wednesday raised a number of concerns regarding environmental degradation in the federal capital.
An environmental commission set up by the Islamabad High Court was holding its first public hearing on environmental degradation in Islamabad at the Pak- China Friendship Centre.
The participants raised issues such as violations and changes to the Islamabad master plan, lack of solid waste and medical waste disposal facilities, air and water pollution attributed to industries and transport, unplanned growth of housing societies, failure to build sewage treatment plants, illegal mining and construction activities in the Margalla Hills National Park, and encroachments on green belts and public parks with the connivance of city administrators.
Interestingly, no Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) representative was present at the public hearing.
Commission Chairman Dr Pervaiz Hassan conducted the hearing, accompanied by Capital Development Authority (CDA) Environment Member Mustafain Kazmi, Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) Director-General Dr Khurshid Khan, Cabinet Secretary Raja Hassan Abbas, PTI MNA from Islamabad Asad Omer, and other members of the commission.
The commission also sought written proposals from the general public before the next meeting, scheduled to be held at the cabinet secretary’s office on July 29.
Earlier, Dr Hassan shared details about the formation of the commission and its mandate. He said that environmental issues were manifold, but committed to give viable short, medium and long-term recommendations to help make Islamabad greener.
Omer said the PTI had raised the issue of construction of a housing society on NARC land in a National Assembly session earlier in the day. Dr M Anwar Baig said that solid waste should be separated at household level. He said 35 to 40 dump sites are used for disposal of solid waste in Islamabad.
Mehmood Akhtar Cheema said Islamabad was never designed as a vertical city, rather it was meant to be a horizontal city. He said Pakistan lacks effective enforcement and implementation of laws. CDA environment member Kazmi replied to the claims of master plan violations, saying that the CDA had not made any major violations. Regarding solid waste management, he said that residents of the capital were producing 600 tons of waste every day. He expressed hope that after the formation of the commission, the CDA will be able select a proper dump site for solid waste.
Green Force Islamabad member Bilal Haq said the Margalla Hill National Park should be protected, and stressed that the original master plan should be uploaded on the CDA website. He added that bicycle paths should be added to footpaths or roads.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 18th, 2015.
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