NA body seeks case study on environmental damage by restaurants in MHNP

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Climate Change Friday sought a case study from the Ministry of Climate Change on environmental damage inflicted by various restaurants and resorts established in the vicinity of Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP).

While chairing the meeting, Chairperson Standing Committee Member National Assembly (MNA) Nuzhat Pathan expressed her displeasure over functioning of restaurants, hotels and resorts within the limits of the national park including Monal Restaurant and others.

Nuzhat said that the Ministry should present a case study on the Monal case and management of national park to guide legislation to control damage to ecology due to anthropogenic activities and direct dumping of untreated liquid and solid waste into the national park.

She also directed to call Founder Clifton Urban Forest Masood Lohar and the provincial forest secretaries to brief the forum on forest protection and plantation efforts being implemented across the country in the next meeting.

The Committee deferred the agendas of MNAs Ali Gohar Khan, Tahira Aurangzeb due to the absence of the movers whereas the agenda pertaining to MNA Shahida Rehmani’s Pakistan Environmental Protection (Amendment) Bill 2022.

Briefing the Committee, Secretary MoCC Asif Hyder Shah said the Monal restaurant was opposed clearly by the Ministry due to its location within the national park. However, they were not complying to the environmental laws as their dumping of waste, increased human and car mobility was damaging the biodiversity.

While sharing details on the agenda of comprehensive briefing on the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Plantation (TBTTP) project, he said the nomenclature of the project was changed to its oldest name of Green Pakistan Programme. “India has 21% forest cover and Pakistan has lowest in the region due to its massive ratio of arid land under cultivation.”

He added that the TBTTP was globally acclaimed and accredited whereas its monitoring was being done through third party consortium of IUCN, WWF, and FAO. The consortium was busy in doing the third party audit.

A first interim report was issued by the third party audit consortium and there were no blatant violations noticed by the Ministry in the third party audit report.

He informed the committee that Rs19 billion were being spent out of the total Rs22 billion funding provided by the federal government so far to the provinces for the project execution.

IG Forest, MoCC, Syed Ghulam Qadir Shah told the committee that the Green Pakistan project’s initial target was to plant 100 million trees in 100 districts across the country which was scaled up to 3.29 billion trees plantation target across the country for five years.

He informed that the total project cost was Rs125 billion with a 50-50 share of both federal and provincial governments. There were a total of 17,000 plantation sites across the country having plantation done under TBTTP project that was covering an area of 1.6 million acres. The project so far created 1.4 million jobs in the forestry sector and some 1.8 billion trees plantation target was achieved so far that made 56% of the total set target of 3.29 billion trees till August 2022.

He added that some Rs 38.8 billion have been disbursed so far out of which Rs22 billion were provided by the federal government whereas the rest was chipped in by the provinces.

However, as per the audit report the survival rate of plantation was 80% under the project, he said adding, “Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s policy in this regard is the best in forest plantation, regeneration and it has been proposed to be replicated at the provincial level.”

Director General Pak-EPA Farzana Altaf Shah told the Committee that the EPA was carrying out regular sampling of Monal’s liquid waste disposal. However, it was throwing filthy untreated water into the national park and also wrote letter to her maintaining that CDA had leased out the structure to Monal authorities and CDA should be inquired about the environmental damages, she added.

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