Environmental degradation incurring Rs365 billion loss every year

STAFF REPORT ISB: Like every poor and third world country having meager resources and low level of awareness about national issues, Pakistan too is confronting with the ever-increasing issue of environment degradation. The situation is very discouraging despite the fact that the country is signatory of a number of international protocols, conventions and agreements to control environment that involves agriculture, pollution, ecosystem, wildlife, land protection, increasing temperature, glaciers melting, change in weather cycle and natural disasters.

However, Federal Minister for Climate Change Mushahid Ullah Khan, who is upbeat to improve the situation related to the environment in the country, said that his ministry is taking all-out efforts to control the environmental degradation that costs more than Rs365 billion to national economy every year.

“Rs365 billion losses, inadequate water supply, hygiene account and sanitation for Rs112 billion, agricultural soil degradation Rs70 billion, indoor pollution Rs 67 billion, urban air pollution Rs 65 billion, lead exposure Rs 45 billion and land degradation and deforestation Rs 6 billion,” Mushahid Ullah revealed this sector-wise break-up of the environment losses while interacting with media here in Islamabad.

The minister said that he believed that access to clean environment, of which peoples access to clean drinking water and safe sanitation are central part, is one of the basic rights of every citizen for healthy survival and overall socio-economic development of the country.

“Healthy nation is unprecedentedly vital for a country to progress in every sphere of social and economic activities,” he added.

Though the minister claimed that his partys government is making allout efforts to control environment degradation impacts on various sectors, yet the progress in this regard is not visible at any stage.

“Their party PML-N strongly believes in the ecologically sound socio-economic and development policies to preserve and develop the countrys natural and forest resources that is key to counteracting the negative impacts of global warming, which is main cause of climate change,” he explained.

He was quick to remark that however, achieving this is not possible without a coherent and workable strategy across all our provinces to cope with the impacts of changing weather patterns being faced by the country.

He cautioned that natural calamities never stop at provincial boundaries, saying the response of the provinces should not be lacking a coherent sequence or connection.

Talking about the hefty economic losses on account of the environmental degradation, the minister said that his ministry is collaborating with all provinces to check the losses to the national economy by addressing environmental pollution, providing clean drinking water and safe sanitation facilities to people, boosting tree plantation activities at all levels, fighting water-logging and salinity and ensuring proper waste management and disposal as well as recycling.

“In this regard, the role of environmental protection agencies (EPAs) in all provinces remains of unprecedented significance and these agencies need to work hard for controlling environmental degradation and ensure implementation of relevant laws in letter and spirit,” the minister Mushahid Ullah Khan emphasized.

He said that while the laws to check environmental degradation exist in the country, there is a serious need for their enforcement in true sense. However, this not is possible without the collaboration of provinces.

Though trees play a vital role in fighting environmental degradation, floods and land and riverbank erosion, it is a matter of serious concern that forests on more or less 40,000 hectares are cleared or chopped down every year.

There is a dire need for the authorities to wake up to the dangers of deforestation and make concerted efforts to stop deforestation and bring deforested and new areas under forests with the help of local communities.

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