Islamabad, 15th July 2021: Ministry of Climate Change, Islamabad- The meeting began with the confirmation of previous meeting minutes; followed by a comprehensive report of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority’s (OGRA) fuel policies. Newly appointed Chairman OGRA Mr. Masroor Khan responded to the concerns raised by the committee related to fuel quality, consumption, pricing, and illegal sale. Concerns regarding the quality of fuels and testing facilities were raised by MNA Mr. Syed Mustafa Mahmood and MNA Mr. Khial Zaman to which Chairman OGRA reassured that testing facilities are now functional; moreover, a new policy is under discussion emphasizing the need to support refineries. The committee questioned Chairman OGRA about what steps they have taken to ensure maximum usage of fuel up to 97-100 RON. Chairman OGRA reassured that all the fuel cargoes will be tested, and reports will be presented before the committee in the future.
The committee probed the executive authorities about the timeline of new policy implementations. Mr. Zaman and MNA Ms. Shahida Rehmani also raised concerns about the quality and pricing gimmicks at the local petrol stations, to which Chairman OGRA responded that they have imposed heavy penalties on 8 petrol stations and also, they plan to continue the crackdown in future. Honorable Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Climate Change Ms. Munaza Hassan raised the issue of the unavailability of a helpline for aggrieved fuel consumers. MNA Ms. Rubina Irfan also expressed her concerns about the illegal import of fuel in Balochistan which is being sold widely in the regions of Surab, and Khuzdar etc. Minister of State for Climate Change Ms. Zartaj Gul explained that the government is deploying a long-term policy in the Balochistan region to facilitate the transitioning process of the regularization of fuel.
By keeping intact, the points of the agenda, MNA Ms. Romina Khurshid raised her concerns over the highly populated and overly crowded flow of traffic towards the Margalla Hills which is likely adding to the pollution problems of Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT). In pursuance of this, convener committee Ms. Munaza Hassan discouraged the increasing number of construction plans on the Margalla Hills.
The Chairman of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) added that residents of the twin cities prefer to visit the Hills, which cannot be restricted. To tackle the pollution problem, managers have developed a tourist destination “Lotus Lake” which does not have cemented construction. Likewise, CDA is thriving to tackle pollution-related probleMs. by replantation drives.
Regarding the agenda of flood risks and their destructive impacts on the life, property, and environment in ICT, the chairman of CDA stated that the authorities will make sewerage lines 100% functional, as well as no concrete will be used in the development of nullahs because the non-porous sewerage lines and nullahs can cause floods in the twin cities.
Issue of environmental pollution and its harmful effects like asthma, cancer, and reduced growth of children were also raised by the committee. MNA Syed Mustafa Mahmud highlighted the fact that a country cannot progress at the expense of its people’s health. Everyone needs to work on reducing environmental pollution for a sustainable future. Chairperson committee Ms. Munaza Hassan raised her concerns over the need for reliable collection of data so that targeted development could be achieved.
Stone Crushing Plants
The next agenda of the meeting was on the issue of stone crushing that results in loss of greenery and mountains all over the country. A public petition was received by the standing committee to take necessary action to close plants in Islamabad Margalla hills and KP. MNA from Balochistan Ms. Rubina Irfan raised her concerns about the existence of this issue in Balochistan as well. She reiterated that there is a need to talk about it in the context of Balochistan because this issue is widely rampant there. Focal persons from KP and Punjab were also there to highlight the woes of these two provinces. DG KP forestry department said that crushing plants are causing environmental pollution in KP. The committee was of the view that there is a need to move vertically in terms of infrastructure building like the rest of the world as it can help in solving the menace of stone crushing to a great extent. Members asked the Ministry of Climate Change to address the issue. MNA Mr. Rai Murtaza suggested that all relevant ministries should be taken into the fold and the responsibility may be delegated to them. The standing committee directed the relevant departments to take action and close the stone crushing plants in KP, Punjab and Islamabad on urgent basis and report back to the committee in next meeting.
Federal Minister of State, Ms. Zartaj Gul talked about the Tree Plantation (Tree-20) initiative as a prerequisite to graduate from the Higher Education Institute of Pakistan. This new Tree-20 policy will involve students of different universities who will be awarded 20 marks for planting 20 trees. This would help in engaging youth in working against climate change. She also asked the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and members of the committee for suggestions and measures regarding this initiative. MNA Ms. Andleeb Abbas and Mr. Rai Muhammad Murtaza Iqbal gave their suggestions on the practical implementation of the Tree-20 initiative. In the end, chairperson Ms. Munaza Hassan appreciated this initiative and highlighted that our youth and future generations should know the importance of trees plantation, especially during climate crises.