Rs1b approved for ‘Green Pakistan Programme’
ISLAMABAD—Secretary Climate Change Ministry Syed Abu Ahmad Akif said on Tuesday that an amount of Rs 1 billion have been approved for the Prime Minister’s Green Pakistan Programme (GPP) to boost tree cover in the country as a part of the present government’s efforts for achieving climate-resilience.
“This is encouraging to see the present government’s seriousness towards fighting deforestation and increasing area under trees, which is central to achieving national climate resilience,” the Secretary told a media briefing here. The five-year programme aims to mitigate climate change-induced risks particularly floods, land and river erosion, land degradation, desertification and fight air pollution.
It also aims to encourage all segments of society to plant trees for their own benefits and to secure future of the next generations to come. The sec- retary said that it’s a matter of sorry that the share of the country’s forestry sector in national GDP is underestimated at 0.33 percent, mainly due to non-valuation of environmental and ecological services of forests.
He emphasized “We must raise awareness among the policy makers, politicians and the people about the unprecedented socio-economic and health-related benefits of the forestry and engage them in country’s overall efforts for fighting deforestation and increase tree cover.” He said that an improving air quality must be ranked as a top national health and development priority. For, increasing air pollution levels are putting the health of millions of people in the country at risk and have proved a major roadblock to efforts being taken achieving for overall environmental development goals.
“We must have to strive hard to tackle air pollution and it requires effective mechanism to monitor air quality for durable maintenance of air quality stan- dards in conformity with the World Health Organisation’s standards,” the Secretary added. He said that before devolution of environment to the provinces under the 18th amendment, an effective air quality monitoring system was operational.
Syed Abu Ahmed Akif said that air quality monitoring has been revived in Sindh and Punjab and it was hoped that the same would begin in other provinces to fight surging levels of air pollution, which has aggravated with rising number of vehicular traffic in urban areas of the country. The ministry had approached the Health Ministry to join the climate change ministry’s efforts to completely bank the veterinary drug to save vultures from extinction for the sake of environmental protection and conservation, he said.