ISLAMABAD, Sept 7: The National Assembly Special Committee on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has called for building more water reservoirs to meet the mounting water needs for all critical sectors particularly agriculture and industry.
There is an urgent need for the promotion of watershed management, rainwater harvesting since these are critical for country’s overall social, economic and environmental development, the committee emphasised during its meeting here on Friday.
Presiding over the meeting, MNA Shahnaz Wazir Ali stressed that availability of adequate funds and increased investment was critical for achieving all the eight Millennium Development Goals before the 2015 deadline.
During his presentation on ‘Progress on MDGs in Pakistan’, Director-General (Environment), Ministry of Climate Change, Jawaid Ali Khan said that out of eight MDGs, Pakistan has succeeded in achieving four important MDGs: protected areas, use of energy per unit of GDP, number of vehicles on CNG and sulfur content in fuel. Pakistan is on track in all four remaining MDGs, he claimed.
Talking about depressing state of forests, Jawaid Ali Khan said that the country’s forest cover enhanced from 4.8 per cent to 5.01 per cent by 2003-04. Latest assessment of forest cover was being carried out at the Pakistan Forest Institute in Peshawar.
After devolution of ministry of environment and transfer of mega forestry projects to the provinces with no PSDP allocation, it appears that the MDG target for forestry is less likely to be achieved. Under the environmental sustainability MDG, the forest cover has been targeted to increase from 4.8 per cent in 1990-91 to 6.0 per cent by 2015.
MNA Nafeesa Shah from Sindh while participating in the deliberations urged the ministry to place on record the violations in the protected areas by sectors like oil and gas and mining so that such issues could be raised in the national assemblies and assemblies for controlling them. More than 12 per cent area of Pakistan is covered under the protected areas system including 25 national parks notified by the provincial governments, she informed.
Mr Jawaid Ali Khan further informed the committee that Pakistan remains off-track to meet the safe sanitation target of getting 67 per cent of the population with access to safe sanitation. The proportion of safe sanitation has been targeted to rise from 34 in 1990-91 to 67 per cent by 2015, he said.
Earlier, secretary of climate change ministry Mahmood Alam pointed out that the absence of mechanism for coordination on MDGs and other climate change and environmental problems between the federal government and provincial department is problematic and need to be plugged for national level environmental development.
Ms Wazir Ali asked the climate change ministry to play its facilitating role in bridging this coordination gap, with major focus on plugging policy and planning level gaps that relates to environment and climate change.
Speaking on the occasion MNA Hameedullah Jan Afridi said that other provinces should make legislation to recover forest areas that are being used for non-forestry uses. For this lessons can be learnt from the Punjab, which made such legislation and recovered a number of acres of forest land that was being used for purposes other than forestry.